Changes in Chronic Disease Risk Factors and Current Exercise Habits Among Canadian Adults Living With and Without a Child During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Canadians have been gravely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and adults living with children may have been disproportionately impacted. The objective of this study was to describe changes in chronic disease risk factors and current exercise habits among adults living with and without a child younger than 18 years old.
Data and methods
A repeated cross-sectional study was conducted using data collected from Canadians aged 15 and older via the Canadian Perspective Survey Series (CPSS) in late March (CPSS1, N=4,383), early May (CPSS2, N=4,367) and mid-July 2020 (CPSS4, N=4,050). This analysis included participants aged 25 and older. At three points during 2020, participants reported whether they increased, decreased, or had not changed their consumption of alcohol, tobacco and junk food or sweets, their screen use, and whether they currently exercised indoors or outdoors. Behaviours were compared for adults living with and without a child, and unadjusted odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated using logistic regression.
The presence of a child in the household was associated with higher odds of increased (compared with decreased or no change) alcohol consumption at all three time points, consumption of junk food and sweets at CPSS1 (OR: 1.69, 95% CI: 1.09-2.60), and time on the Internet at CPSS1 (OR: 1.59, 95% CI: 1.05-2.41) and CPSS4 (OR: 1.56, 95% CI: 1.05-2.29). Compared with older adults (aged 55 and older), younger adults (aged 25 to 54) were more likely to exhibit increases in chronic disease risk factors regardless of the presence of a child in the household.
A substantial proportion of Canadian adults reported increased chronic disease risk factors during the pandemic, with greater increases noted among adults living with a child, compared with those living without a child. Public health interventions are urgently needed to mitigate the long-term impact of the pandemic on population health.