Systematic review of the effects of pandemic confinements on body weight and their determinants

Moien A.B. Khan, Preetha Menon, Romona Govender, Amal M.B. Abu Samra, Kholoud K. Allaham, Javaid Nauman, Linda Östlundh, Halla Mustafa, Jane E.M. Smith, Juma M. Alkaabi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


Pandemics and subsequent lifestyle restrictions such as 'lockdowns' may have unintended consequences, including alterations in body weight. This systematic review assesses the impact of pandemic confinement on body weight and identifies contributory factors. A comprehensive literature search was performed in seven electronic databases and in grey sources from their inception until 1 July 2020 with an update in PubMed and Scopus on 1 February 2021. In total, 2361 unique records were retrieved, of which forty-one studies were identified eligible: one case-control study, fourteen cohort and twenty-six cross-sectional studies (469, 362 total participants). The participants ranged in age from 6 to 86 years. The proportion of female participants ranged from 37 % to 100 %. Pandemic confinements were associated with weight gain in 7·2-72·4 % of participants and weight loss in 11·1-32·0 % of participants. Weight gain ranged from 0·6 (sd 1·3) to 3·0 (sd 2·4) kg, and weight loss ranged from 2·0 (sd 1·4) to 2·9 (sd 1·5) kg. Weight gain occurred predominantly in participants who were already overweight or obese. Associated factors included increased consumption of unhealthy food with changes in physical activity and altered sleep patterns. Weight loss during the pandemic was observed in individuals with previous low weight, and those who ate less and were more physically active before lockdown. Maintaining a stable weight was more difficult in populations with reduced income, particularly in individuals with lower educational attainment. The findings of this systematic review highlight the short-term effects of pandemic confinements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)298-317
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 28 2022


  • Body weight
  • Lockdown
  • Obesity
  • Pandemic
  • Quarantine
  • Weight determinants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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