Survey reveals damage done in lockdown

21st January 2021 | Eativity editors

While the various COVID-19 restrictions haven’t been much fun for anyone, when it comes to Australia, Victorians have probably had the worst time of it (although some tennis players’ girlfriends might beg to differ). A survey of Victorians has revealed that half of them gained weight in 2020 and more than one in three drank more alcohol than usual.

The survey, conducted by the Youth Support and Advocacy Service (YSAS), has revealed higher rates of binge drinking and consumption of fatty and sugary foods during the year. Around 60 percent of survey respondents said they’d gained weight, and the vast majority say they want to cut down on sugary foods in 2021. Women were far more likely to have turned to unhealthy eating; men were more likely to binge drink. Those in metropolitan Melbourne, who underwent months of strict lockdown, were also more likely than their regional and rural counterparts to drink and eat more. Below, we share some key findings.

Alcohol consumption

• One in five survey takers drank heavily at least once a week during lockdown (5+ drinks in a sitting), one in four in metro Melbourne. The 30-49 group were more likely to drink heavily during lockdown and men were twice as likely as women to answer yes to this question.

• More than a third surveyed said they drank more alcohol than usual in 2020, particularly those in metropolitan Melbourne (41%).

• For those who drank more during lockdown, 73% said this was because of stress associated with the pandemic and one in three drank to the point of blackout or embarrassment. Men were more likely than women to have drank alcohol to blackout.

• Almost half said they wanted to cut down on alcohol in 2021.

Unhealthy eating

• Half of survey takers (two-thirds of young people aged 18-29) said they ate more unhealthy food in 2020. Women were more likely to have eaten junk food during lockdown.

• Almost 60% of survey takers said they gained weight during lockdown (65% of women).

• Of those who gained weight, 45% gained 3-4kg and one in three gained 5-9kg. One in 10 gained more than 10kg. Women were far more likely than men to have gained weight.

• 82% said they wished to cut down on sugar in 2021. The 30-49 group was most likely to want to cut down; women were significantly more likely to want to cut down than men.

The survey findings have been released ahead of the annual febfast campaign, to provide anyone looking to take a break from alcohol and sugar a perfect opportunity to do so.

febfast is YSAS’s only fundraiser for the year. Funds raised go towards assisting severely disadvantaged young people in Victoria and South Australia to recover from serious drug, alcohol and mental health problems, which were only exacerbated by the pandemic.

“The beauty of febfast is that it is the perfect opportunity to really motivate yourself to kick those unhealthy habits to the curb,” says CEO of YSAS, Andrew Bruun. “Whether it’s taking a break from alcohol, cutting down on the fast food, chucking your cigarettes out or even taking a break from doom scrolling, there’s a benefit for everyone. We’re expecting record numbers of participants and urge all Australians to get on board.”

febfast encourages Australians to sign up and ask friends and family to sponsor their health journey for a month. Businesses can sign up teams to get healthy together. You can register for febfast at