Association between screen time, weight trajectory, and perception of weight change during the COVID-19 pandemic
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Universidade Federal da Bahia-UFBA, Brazil
Fiocruz, Brazil
UFES, Brazil
UFMG, Brazil
UFRGS, Brazil
UESB, Brazil
UEFS, Brazil
Publication date: 2023-04-26
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1482
The prevalence of excess body weight in the Brazilian adult population has been increasing even before the restriction of social mobility due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the period of social restriction, an increase in time in front of screens has been observed, whether for work or leisure, a practice that favors weight gain. The self-perception of greater weight gain in this period has been reported by adults as a consequence of social distancing. We aimed to estimate the association between screen time and perception of weight change, stratified according to gender and weight trajectory during the COVID-19 pandemic.

From the Brazilian Longitudinal Study of Adult Health (ELSA-Brasil), we included 5.080 participants aged 39–78 (2012–2014) who attended a follow-up visit (2017-2019) and ELSA-Covid wave in 2020. Standardized questionnaires were used to record sociodemographic data, perception of weight change, and screen time. Height and weight were measured on all participants during in-person visits at research centers. The weight trajectory was calculated by large annual weight gain since 20 years old at follow-up moments. We used Poisson regression with robust variance to estimate the association.

Obesity rates were high in women (36.6%) and men (31.5%) and the weight trajectory increased 35% in women and 27.4% in men. During the social distancing period, perception of higher weight change was observed in 49% of women and 37.7% of men. Screen time increased in 53.7% of women and 41.7% of men who perceived higher weight change. The increase in screen time during this period was associated with a 21% (IC95%=1.09-1.35) perception of weight gain in women and 18% (IC95%=1.04-1.33) in men.

The higher screen time in the period of social restriction was associated with a perception of weight gain but no significant association was observed for weight trajectory.