Students on lockdown

Influence on diet and exercise

Feasting during a "cozy" online lecture. Lockdown doesn't agree with all students.
IMAGO / Cavan Images
Feasting during a "cozy" online lecture. Lockdown doesn't agree with all students.

The first Corona Lockdown has changed the lifestyle of many students. A survey conducted by the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart shows both positive and negative influences on eating habits, exercise and also body weight.

A study carried out by the Institute of Nutritional Medicine at the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart in the summer of 2020 aimed to find out how social isolation, online teaching and any fears and worries generated or increased by the pandemic affect the everyday lives of students. The focus was on exercise and dietary patterns.

Higher snacking desire

Some of the students began to prepare meals freshly more often during the lockdown and to try out new things, reports the team around Prof. Nanette Ströbele-Benschop. However, just under half of the 800 21- to 26-year-olds surveyed reached for sweets and cakes more frequently during the lockdown - – not without consequences. A third of the students also consumed hearty snacks and coffee more often, the study found. But another third ate fewer meat products and more vegetables and salads. Forty percent drank less alcohol than usual.

According to the survey, the body weight of about half of the students changed: 30 percent gained weight, 20 percent lost weight. Students with higher body mass indexes (BMIs) were particularly affected, according to the report.

Sport replaces everyday exercise

Among the group of young people who reduced their weight during the lockdown, 68 percent had exercised more. Among the 30 percent with weight gains, only 37 percent did so. "It was exciting for us to see that there were students for whom sporting activities became more important instead of everyday exercise," Prof. Nanette Ströbele-Benschop reports. "Just over half of the students did more sport than usual over the lockdown."

It wasn't explicit differences between genders that were found, but overall very different strategies for dealing with the lockdown. Prof. Ströbele-Benschop: "Some seem to use the circumstances to their positive advantage and are able to integrate nutrition and exercise more consciously into their daily routine. For others, however, the daily worries and loss of structure lead to further negative effects."