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Covid-19 pandemic amplified substance abuse, mental health issues for obese people: Study

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on February 07, 2021

A new survey study revealed that the coronavirus pandemic has debilitating effects on obese people. It also noted that substance abuse has spiked in the pandemic.

The study was published in the journal Clinical Obesity and carried out by the researchers at UT Southwestern and the UTHealth School of Public Health.

For the study, the researchers surveyed 589 obese patients who are enrolled in the UT Southwestern Weight Wellness Program, a multidisciplinary weight management and post-bariatric care clinic.

Nearly half of the group reported using recreational drugs and alcohol, and 10 per cent reported increased use since the start of the pandemic. Seventeen of the patients have tested positive for Covid-19.

Almost a quarter (24.3 per cent) of the patients reported using opioids in the 30 days preceding the survey. 9.5 per cent sedatives or tranquilizers, 3.6 per cent marijuana, and 1 per cent stimulants. Patients were surveyed from June 1, 2020, to Sept. 30, 2020.

Study author Jaime Almandoz, M.D., MBA, medical director of the Weight Wellness Program, said: "Many patients with obesity are also challenged by mental health conditions. Those who reported anxiety, depression, and trouble sleeping were two to four times more likely to increase their use of substances. For those who reported stress eating, there was a sixfold increase in substance use."

Meanwhile, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 70 per cent of the patients reported that it was more difficult to achieve their weight loss goals during the pandemic.

Published on February 07, 2021

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