COVID-19 changed how Arkansans with diabetes manage their illness, especially during the height of the pandemic when stay-at-home orders were intensified, according to a study led by researchers at the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences (UAMS) Office of Community Health & Research.
The study, Physical Activity and Fruit and Vegetable Consumption During the COVID-19 Pandemic for People with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, found that one in five Arkansans with diabetes consumed fewer healthy foods — such as fruits and vegetables — and nearly one in three Arkansans with diabetes reported a reduction to their physical activities as a direct result of the pandemic. Men reported an additional day of physical activity compared to women, due to many women assuming additional household and childcare responsibilities since the start of the pandemic.
“The results of the study support the need for health care providers to reinforce the importance of physical activity and maintaining a healthy diet for people with diabetes, especially during a public health emergency like the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jennifer Andersen, an assistant professor in the UAMS Office of Community Health & Research and a lead researcher on the study. “Additionally, women with diabetes may need extra support to maintain their health as many have taken on more responsibilities at home and have not returned to the workforce or other activities since the pandemic started.”
Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes. In Arkansas, about one in nine adults is diagnosed with the condition. Although diabetes is unique to every person, it can be managed by eating a healthy diet and developing an exercise routine, according to the American Diabetes Association.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week. For more information about physical activity and nutritional opportunities near you, visit UAMS.Health/Together.