New research show less social interaction since Covid-19 is contributing to weight problems
More than a third (38%) of those questioned in a survey of 2,000 adults said they feel less socially connected now than they did before the pandemic, and only 36% currently feel a sense of belonging within their local community.
Meanwhile, nearly half (44%) say they are meeting fewer people in real life than before March 2020 and 31% say they feel socially isolated even when with other people.
When asked about the challenges of trying to manage their weight since the pandemic and lockdowns, 31% said they found it more difficult, with 12% of those stating it was much more difficult. Of those surveyed, more than one in three (36%) reported that they had gained weight over the course of the past two years (compared to 19% who had lost weight).
Among respondents who had gained weight, more than half (58%) reported gaining between 1 stone and 3 stone 13lbs, while 16% reported gaining 4 stone or more. Women were more likely to say they had gained weight (42%) than men (30%).
The research also polled members of Slimming World’s 7,700 community weight loss groups. Three in four people who joined a Slimming World group said they were more confident and self-assured (74%) as a result. They had also made new friends (73%), felt more connected (68%) and, crucially, 93% of Slimming World members felt committed to their weight loss.
Dr Jacquie Lavin, special advisor on the Science of Weight Management at Slimming World said: “For more than 50 years our members have found a sense of belonging within our groups – one they might not feel anywhere else – as they’ve joined together with like-minded people who understand how it feels to be overweight.
At Slimming World, we understand it’s a physical and a psychological journey and members need support to tackle both."
Sue Thompson, District Manager for Durham, Wearside and South Tyneside, who lost 16st after joining Slimming World, says after years of experiencing embarrassment and isolation in particular in social situations down to her weight, she was worried and anxious about joining a weight loss group.
She said: “I always had a feeling of being judged by strangers when I was in a group setting which could be at work or socially. I’m lucky to always have had a very supportive family and circle of friends but inside I still had a feeling of being along down to the burden of shame I carried with my weight.”
“That changed almost instantly when I joined Slimming World. I remember the welcome I got from my consultant and the group of members, none of whom I’d met before that first night.
“I would genuinely say to anyone struggling alone with their weight come and join a group, that social connection and support is the missing link in your success you maybe don’t even realise.”