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Survey Reveals Shifts in Health Behaviors During Pandemic

In a new survey, 21% of people said the pandemic has encouraged them to improve their eating habits. (Adobe Stock)
In a new survey, 21% of people said the pandemic has encouraged them to improve their eating habits. (Adobe Stock)
August 7, 2020

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - An annual survey is uncovering the pandemic's impact on health behaviors and attitudes.

According to the 2020 UnitedHealthcare Wellness Checkup Survey, about two-thirds of people said walking is their preferred exercise activity, and it's the most popular among Baby Boomers and Generation X.

On the topic of nutrition, Rebecca Madsen - chief consumer officer with UnitedHealthcare - said the survey found some people's eating habits have shifted.

"Thirty percent of respondents said their diet is worse now than before COVID and 21% said that it's improved," said Madsen. "So, I think with more people being home and the propensity to want to snack - or frankly, to take better care of your health - these results are all over the map."

As researchers race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, about one-in-three respondents said they are now more likely to get an annual flu shot this fall.

Madsen said when it comes to workplace norms, there also are differing opinions - with half of the respondents saying they'll be comfortable returning to work when the time comes.

"Thirty-four percent of people said that they would stop shaking hands at work, no matter what the circumstance, to reduce the risk of viral transmission," said Madsen. "Some said that they would use an alternative type of physical greeting."

The survey was done to provide insights for wellness programs offered by employers, which Madsen said reduce absenteeism and health-care costs as they foster "whole-person health."

She noted more than 77% of respondents who have access to a wellness programs at work say it's had a positive impact on their health.

"About half of people said the programs motivated them to pay attention to their health," said Madsen. "So, we've seen some really positive trends. And as people work either remotely or they return to the office, the employer is a great option for finding different types of programs to maintain your health."

She added that more than two-thirds of companies have said they plan to expand their wellness programs in the next few years.

Disclosure: United Healthcare - NE MO KS Region contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service - MO