Czechs getting fatter and more depressed as coronavirus crisis deepens

Illustrative photo: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels

A new poll suggests Czechs are gaining weight because they are eating more and exercising less during the Covid-19 pandemic. A recent survey by the insurance company Mutumutu shows Czechs have gained an average of 6.5 kilos over the past seven months. It also suggests people under the age of 25 are the most affected group.

In recent years, Czechs have been increasingly struggling with the problem of weight gain. WHO figures from 2018 ranked the Czech Republic as the seventh most obese nation in Europe with 26% of the population meeting the definition of obesity.
A survey by the insurance company Mutumutu shows that the Covid-19 restrictions, which left most people confined to their homes, have had a significant impact on people’s overall health condition. Zuzana Bienvenu is the company’s spokeswoman:

“Over 30 percent of our respondents gained five kilos and 14 percent said they gained 10 kilos. This is bad news, because as we know, Covid-19 is especially dangerous for people who are overweight and obese.”

The survey also shows that some 36 percent of people, mainly those under the age of 25, significantly restricted their sports activities or stopped doing sports altogether:

Photo: Alexandra Kochová,  Pixabay / CC0

“Apart from young people, the second most affected group are people over the age of 55, who are also most threatened by Covid-19. Apart from closed swimming pools and fitness centres, sports activities are currently also limited by cold weather.”

Obesity is a growing problem not only among the adult population, but also among children. Jiří Beran from the Medical Commission of the Czech Olympic Committee says the Covid-19 pandemic has made the situation even worse:

“Studies have shown that the physical condition of school-aged children deteriorated during the first wave of the pandemic. They show, for instance, that Czech kids gained two kilos on average.

“So obesity is an increasing problem. The second problem is that the daily physical activity among children dropped by around 25 percent. Children have practically stopped doing sports.”

Mr Beran predicts that the impact of the second wave of Covid-19 will be twice as hard, because children are even more likely to stay at home in the cold weather. That’s why he has called on the Ministry of Education to allow schools to reintroduce PE classes as soon as possible.

Growing obesity is not the only problem caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The survey by Mutumutu also shows that over 40 percent of smokers started to smoke more in the past months and five percent picked up the habit again.

Another research, carried out by one of the Czech Republic’s largest pharmaceutical groups Zentiva, suggests that the pandemic affected over 30 percent of Czechs in one way or another. Most people mentioned symptoms ranging from headaches, depression and anxiety to back pain and weight gain.