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The UK Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and diet, physical activity, and sleep during the COVID-19 pandemic: evidence from eight longitudinal population surveys



Wielgoszewska, Bożena;

Maddock, Jane;

Green, Michael J;

Di Gessa, Giorgio;

Parsons, Sam;

Griffith, Gareth J;

Croft, Jazz;

Ploubidis, George B; + view all

Wielgoszewska, Bożena;

Maddock, Jane;

Green, Michael J;

Di Gessa, Giorgio;

Parsons, Sam;

Griffith, Gareth J;

Croft, Jazz;

Stevenson, Anna J;

Booth, Charlotte;

Silverwood, Richard J;

Bann, David;

Patalay, Praveetha;

Hughes, Alun D;

Chaturvedi, Nishi;

Howe, Laura D;

Fitzsimons, Emla;

Katikireddi, Srinivasa Vittal;

Ploubidis, George B;

– view fewer

(2022)

The UK Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and diet, physical activity, and sleep during the COVID-19 pandemic: evidence from eight longitudinal population surveys.

BMC Medicine
, 20


, Article 147. 10.1186/s12916-022-02343-y.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: In March 2020, the UK implemented the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough) to minimise job losses. Our aim was to investigate associations between furlough and diet, physical activity, and sleep during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS: We analysed data on 25,092 participants aged 16-66 years from eight UK longitudinal studies. Changes in employment, including being furloughed, were based on employment status before and during the first lockdown. Health behaviours included fruit and vegetable consumption, physical activity, and sleep. Study-specific estimates obtained using modified Poisson regression, adjusting for socio-demographic characteristics and pre-pandemic health and health behaviours, were statistically pooled using random effects meta-analysis. Associations were also stratified by sex, age, and education. RESULTS: Across studies, between 8 and 25% of participants were furloughed. Compared to those who remained working, furloughed workers were slightly less likely to be physically inactive (RR = 0.85; [95% CI 0.75-0.97]; I 2 = 59%) and did not differ overall with respect to low fruit and vegetable consumption or atypical sleep, although findings for sleep were heterogenous (I 2 = 85%). In stratified analyses, furlough was associated with lower fruit and vegetable consumption among males (RR = 1.11; [1.01-1.22]; I 2 = 0%) but not females (RR = 0.84; [0.68-1.04]; I 2 = 65%). Considering changes in quantity, furloughed workers were more likely than those who remained working to report increases in fruit and vegetable consumption, exercise, and hours of sleep. CONCLUSIONS: Those furloughed exhibited similar health behaviours to those who remained in employment during the initial stages of the pandemic. There was little evidence to suggest that adoption of such social protection policies in the post-pandemic recovery period and during future economic crises had adverse effects on population health behaviours.

Type: Article

Title: The UK Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and diet, physical activity, and sleep during the COVID-19 pandemic: evidence from eight longitudinal population surveys
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1186/s12916-022-02343-y
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-022-02343-y
Language: English
Additional information: Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Keywords: Employment, Exercise, Fruit and vegetable consumption, Furlough, Health behaviours, Sleeping
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Epidemiology and Public Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10146600
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