Poles gain weight during the pandemic: study

Poles are getting fatter during the pandemic, with as many as 42 percent gaining an average weight of 5.7 kg, according to a recent survey.

Carried out between February 25 - March 2, the Ipsos COVID 365+ survey, which included a representative sample of 1,000 Poles, indicates that overweight or obesity currently affects every second person in Poland.

Dr. Ernest Kuchar, an expert in the field of infectious diseases and sports medicine at the Medical University of Warsaw, said that “overweight and obesity are among the leading risk factors for severe COVID-19. This is confirmed by numerous scientific studies carried out in recent months.”

He added that healthy eating and physical activity are two basic factors, cheap and available to each of us, that have the most important impact on reducing unnecessary kilograms, and thus can affect the milder course of COVID-19.

Poles are aware that lifestyle, including physical activity, has a beneficial effect on health. In the Ipsos study, every third person stated that physical activity had the greatest impact on reducing the risk of severe coronavirus infection.

According to the MultiSport Index 2021 study, 43 percent of adult Poles are below the minimum level of activity, which, according to the latest recommendations of the World Health Organization, is 300 minutes of moderate exercise per week. “Unfortunately, for many years we have been far from the podium occupied by the most physically active societies in Europe. The restrictions on access to sports facilities, which have been in place for over a year, certainly will not improve these statistics,” said Dr. Kuchar.

In the MultiSport Index Pandemic survey conducted during the first lockdown in the spring of 2020, as many as 43 percent of physically active Poles admitted that they had limited the number of training sessions. The main reason was the closure of sports facilities.

Today every third Pole engages in physical activity less often than once a month. “When we add the hours spent in a sitting position, improper diet and frequent unhealthy snacks, we have a recipe for the development of diabetes or cardiovascular diseases, i.e. civilization diseases, which, apart from the COVID-19 pandemic, remain the most important health problem and the main cause of death,” said Dr. Kuchar.

According to WHO statistics, insufficient levels of physical activity is the fourth leading cause of death in the world, responsible for about 5 million deaths per year. Lack of exercise is also a direct cause of 27 percent of cases of diabetes and 30 percent of cases of ischaemic heart disease.

“Physical activity has a prophylactic effect in the context of both civilization diseases and functioning in infectious seasons. It supports our immunity, reducing the risk of upper respiratory tract infections by as much as 30%, among other things,” Said Mr Kuchar.

He added that exercise also plays a significant role in recovery from COVID-19. “Our lymphatic system has only one pump: the muscles. Muscle contractions stimulate the circulation of the lymph and its immune cells around the body. All this information adds up to one very important conclusion: we should pay attention to the lifestyle and remember about the daily dose of exercise. That will certainly benefit our health, which is particularly threatened today on many levels,” he concluded.