Faculty Articles

Title

COVID-19 Pandemic-related Changes in Weight, Health Behaviors, and Professional Practice: A Study of Dietitians

Document Type

Abstract

Publication Date

10-2021

Publication Title

Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

ISSN or ISBN

2212-2672

Volume

121

Issue/Number

10

Abstract/Excerpt

Learning Outcome

Describe how the COVID-19 Pandemic-impacted weight, health behaviors, and professional practice of RDNs.

Background

The COVID-19 pandemic remains an unprecedented health crisis requiring many RDNs to expand their duties and services, while other RDNs faced unemployment, reduced hours, and changes to their work environment. We evaluated how COVID-19 impacted RDNs' weight and eating behaviors, the relationship between psychological factors and weight change, and whether professional training as an RDN was perceived as a protective factor in maintaining healthy habits.

Methods

A 57-item cross-sectional online survey distributed among RDNs residing in the U.S. captured health behaviors and tools to measure anxiety (General Anxiety Disorder-7) and insomnia (Insomnia Severity Index). Adjusting for the effects of age, ANCOVA was used to determine differences in anxiety or insomnia symptoms in those who lost, gained, or remained weight neutral.

Results

477 RDNs (96% female, 94% white) completed the questionnaire. 68.5% of RDNs reported no weight change, 21.4% reported weight gain greater than 5 pounds, and 10.3% reported weight loss greater than 5 pounds. There were no statistically significant differences between anxiety, insomnia, and weight change. Although 360 (75.5%) reported their RDN professional training equipped them with the skills needed to maintain healthy eating behaviors, an additional 17.6% reported that circumstances made it difficult to put these skills into practice consistently.

Conclusion

These findings suggest that the professional practice skills of the RDN may have conferred some personal health benefits, as evidenced by smaller weight gains experienced by RDNs relative to the general population and other health professionals, thereby limiting the impact of pandemic-induced work and life disruptions.

Funding source

None

DOI

10.1016/j.jand.2021.08.014

Peer Reviewed

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