Many Americans continue to maintain unhealthy lifestyle habits during COVID-19; overeating, alcohol drinking and marijuana use increase while exercise declines, reports USC Center for the Digital Future

Note: Accompanying graphics for this release available upon request.

Newswise — After more than six months of living in a pandemic, large percentages of Americans continue to indulge in unhealthy lifestyle habits, including overeating and increased use of alcohol and marijuana — all while many are exercising less, according to a study of the cultural impact of COVID-19 conducted by the USC Center for the Digital Future (CDF).

The CDF study, conducted twice since the pandemic began, found in its first project in April that indulging had increased while exercising declined; the behavior persisted into the Center’s second study in June.

Eating, alcohol, and marijuana use during the COVID-19 pandemic

The CDF study in June found 41% of Americans said they are eating more since the pandemic began — the same figure reported in its April study. Only 10 percent of Americans said they are eating less during the pandemic. 

The study also found 33% of Americans said they are drinking more, up slightly from 31% reported in April. Twenty-one percent said they are now drinking less — the same as in the April study. 

Thirty-eight percent of Americans said they are using marijuana more, down slightly from the April figure of 42%. Thirteen percent in the June study said they are using marijuana less, up marginally from 12% reported in April.

Are you exercising?

At the same time, almost one-third of Americans (32%) said they are exercising less, a decrease from 36% reported in April. However, 30 percent said they are exercising more since the pandemic began — a slight increase from 27 percent reported in April. 

The Coronavirus Disruption Project

The first round of the CDF’s Coronavirus Disruption Study, released April 29, revealed many changes — both positive and negative — in relationships, emotional stability, and behavior since the COVID-19 pandemic and safer-at-home restrictions began. The second round of the study, conducted June 19-26, added new questions about political behavior and compared views about working from home, education, media, entertainment, shopping, and political outlooks.

The findings are based on the results of surveys of 1,000 respondents conducted in English from an online panel, with a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points. 

The Center for the Digital Future: Revealing disruption for two decades 

For more than 20 years, the Center for the Digital Future at USC Annenberg (digitalcenter.org) has explored the impact of digital technologies on the behavior and views of users and non-users. The center also studies disruption in the lives of Americans and the corporate world.

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CDF’s Coronavirus Disruption Study




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