Blom V, Lönn A, Ekblom B, Kallings LV, Väisänen D, Hemmingsson E, Andersson G, Wallin P, Stenling A, Ekblom Ö, Lindwall M, Salier Eriksson J, Holmlund T, Ekblom-Bak E
Int J Environ Res Public Health 18 (6) - [2021-03-23; online 2021-03-23]
The COVID-19 pandemic has become a public health emergency of international concern, which may have affected lifestyle habits and mental health. Based on national health profile assessments, this study investigated perceived changes of lifestyle habits in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and associations between perceived lifestyle changes and mental health in Swedish working adults. Among 5599 individuals (50% women, 46.3 years), the majority reported no change (sitting 77%, daily physical activity 71%, exercise 69%, diet 87%, alcohol 90%, and smoking 97%) due to the pandemic. Changes were more pronounced during the first wave (April-June) compared to the second (October-December). Women, individuals <60 years, those with a university degree, white-collar workers, and those with unhealthy lifestyle habits at baseline had higher odds of changing lifestyle habits compared to their counterparts. Negative changes in lifestyle habits and more time in a mentally passive state sitting at home were associated with higher odds of mental ill-health (including health anxiety regarding one's own and relatives' health, generalized anxiety and depression symptoms, and concerns regarding employment and economy). The results emphasize the need to support healthy lifestyle habits to strengthen the resilience in vulnerable groups of individuals to future viral pandemics and prevent health inequalities in society.