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Swiss pile on the pounds due to the pandemic

Working from home can upset eating habits © Keystone / Christian Beutler

The coronavirus pandemic has affected eating habits in Switzerland, causing people to put on an average three kilogrammes of weight, a University of St Gallen study has found.

This content was published on August 29, 2021 - 17:14
SRF/ilj

The study, revealed on Swiss public television SRF on SundayExternal link, found the average weight gain across all age groups to be 3.3 kg in 2021. The most affected age group by far: 45-64 year olds, who put on an average 6.7kg.

“If you compare the results on this study with the previous ones… then this weight gain is extremely high,” University of St Gallen professor Thomas Rudolf told SRF. On average people put on around 100g in weight in the years 2014-2019.

The study is conducted in regular intervals by the university’s Institute of Retail Management. The weight change has never been so marked as in this current, sixth assessment, the authors say.

Snacking, lack of structure

One of the reasons for the change is the pandemic: working from home has generally meant more snacking and less exercise, the SRF report said. But around a quarter of those surveyed also said that they did not have enough money for healthy eating – this was 16% in 2019, the date of the last study. Increased consumption of alcohol is also thought to have played a role.

Nutritionist Jürg Hösli, who has also observed the trend, told SRF that the lack of structure in eating habits was also a factor. “If there is no structure then people tend to eat more in the evenings and if people eat more in the evening this is mostly associated with hunger attacks, so people eat far too much and pile on the pounds,” he said.

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