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      Covid-19 restrictions: An opportunity to highlight the effect of neighbourhood deprivation on individuals’ health-related behaviours


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          Neighbourhood socio-economic deprivation is strongly related to health-risk behaviours, which are predictors of overall health and mortality. During the Covid-19 pandemic, individuals have been forced to spend more time within their residential areas, which might have had an effect on health-risk behaviours.


          We assess the consequences of living in a more or less deprived neighbourhood during the pandemic on individual behavioural changes in four health-related outcomes: smoking, drinking, physical activity and healthy eating. We hypothesise that the pandemic and related lock-downs had negative effects on health-related behaviours, but that this negative effect had been stronger for people living in more deprived areas. We additionally explore sex and ethnicity as sources of heterogeneity in these effects.


          We use data from four nationally representative cohort studies in England. We perform longitudinal individual and neighbourhood fixed effects estimations focusing on comparing the pre-pandemic period with the first lockdown (May 2020) period and up to one year after the outbreak of the pandemic (March 2021).


          During the first lockdown, as compared to pre-pandemic levels, on average, people smoked more, drunk more and did more physical activity. However, compared to people in less deprived neighbourhoods, people living in more deprived areas showed a smaller increase in their levels of physical activity, consumed less fruit and vegetables and increased the number of cigarettes smoked. We additionally find that the combined effect of Covid-19 and area deprivation varies significantly by both sex and ethnicity.


          Results add to evidence on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns on health-risk behaviours, highlighting the relative contribution of the neighbourhood environment and individual characteristics. We argue that reducing levels of neighbourhood deprivation may contribute to positively influence behaviours, especially for some sub-groups of the population, leading to a reduction of social inequalities in health.

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          Most cited references68

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          The COVID-19 pandemic and health inequalities

          This essay examines the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for health inequalities. It outlines historical and contemporary evidence of inequalities in pandemics—drawing on international research into the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918, the H1N1 outbreak of 2009 and the emerging international estimates of socio-economic, ethnic and geographical inequalities in COVID-19 infection and mortality rates. It then examines how these inequalities in COVID-19 are related to existing inequalities in chronic diseases and the social determinants of health, arguing that we are experiencing a syndemic pandemic. It then explores the potential consequences for health inequalities of the lockdown measures implemented internationally as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on the likely unequal impacts of the economic crisis. The essay concludes by reflecting on the longer-term public health policy responses needed to ensure that the COVID-19 pandemic does not increase health inequalities for future generations.
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            Neighborhoods and health.

            Features of neighborhoods or residential environments may affect health and contribute to social and race/ethnic inequalities in health. The study of neighborhood health effects has grown exponentially over the past 15 years. This chapter summarizes key work in this area with a particular focus on chronic disease outcomes (specifically obesity and related risk factors) and mental health (specifically depression and depressive symptoms). Empirical work is classified into two main eras: studies that use census proxies and studies that directly measure neighborhood attributes using a variety of approaches. Key conceptual and methodological challenges in studying neighborhood health effects are reviewed. Existing gaps in knowledge and promising new directions in the field are highlighted.
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              Is Open Access

              Changes in physical activity and sedentary behaviours from before to during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown: a systematic review

              Objective In March 2020, several countries banned unnecessary outdoor activities during COVID-19, commonly called ‘lockdowns. These lockdowns have the potential to impact associated levels of physical activity and sedentary behaviour. Given the numerous health outcomes associated with physical activity and sedentary behaviour, the aim of this review was to summarise literature that investigated differences in physical activity and sedentary behaviour before vs during the COVID-19 lockdown. Design, data sources and eligibility criteria Electronic databases were searched from November 2019 to October 2020 using terms and synonyms relating to physical activity, sedentary behaviour and COVID-19. The coprimary outcomes were changes in physical activity and/or sedentary behaviour captured via device-based measures or self-report tools. Risk of bias was measured using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale. Results Sixty six articles met the inclusion criteria and were included in the review (total n=86 981). Changes in physical activity were reported in 64 studies, with the majority of studies reporting decreases in physical activity and increases in sedentary behaviours during their respective lockdowns across several populations, including children and patients with a variety of medical conditions. Conclusion Given the numerous physical and mental benefits of increased physical activity and decreased sedentary behaviour, public health strategies should include the creation and implementation of interventions that promote safe physical activity and reduce sedentary behaviour should other lockdowns occur.

                Author and article information

                Soc Sci Med
                Soc Sci Med
                Social Science & Medicine (1982)
                Published by Elsevier Ltd.
                17 April 2023
                17 April 2023
                [a ]Sciences Po & Crest, 84 Rue de Maubeuge, 75009, Paris, France
                [b ]La Statale, Milan & INED, Paris, France
                [c ]Delft University of Technology & Pandemic and Disaster Preparedness Center, the Netherlands
                Author notes
                []Corresponding author.
                S0277-9536(23)00274-5 115917
                © 2023 Published by Elsevier Ltd.

                Since January 2020 Elsevier has created a COVID-19 resource centre with free information in English and Mandarin on the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The COVID-19 resource centre is hosted on Elsevier Connect, the company's public news and information website. Elsevier hereby grants permission to make all its COVID-19-related research that is available on the COVID-19 resource centre - including this research content - immediately available in PubMed Central and other publicly funded repositories, such as the WHO COVID database with rights for unrestricted research re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for free by Elsevier for as long as the COVID-19 resource centre remains active.

                : 14 October 2022
                : 18 January 2023
                : 16 April 2023

                Health & Social care
                neighbourhood,health-related behaviours,inequality,gender,ethnicity
                Health & Social care
                neighbourhood, health-related behaviours, inequality, gender, ethnicity


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