Is time-restricted eating a robust eating regimen during periods of disruptions in daily life? A qualitative study of perspectives of people with overweight during COVID-19

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

BACKGROUND: Time-restricted eating (TRE) has been suggested as a feasible dietary strategy in individuals with overweight. Disruptions in daily life e.g., severe illness can affect engagement in lifestyle interventions to obtain healthier body weight. This study examined if and how the engagement with TRE among people with overweight was affected by the Danish COVID-19 lockdowns as an example of disruptions in daily life.

METHODS: Fifteen participants with overweight enrolled in a TRE intervention, i.e. restricting all eating and drinking except water to the same daily ten-hour window, were interviewed about their experiences and engagement with TRE during COVID-19 lockdowns. Interviews were semi-structured and conducted by phone or face-to-face with safe social distancing. Data analysis was grounded in a reflexive thematic analysis approach.

RESULTS: Daily life rhythms were disrupted by lockdowns by preventing participants from performing ordinary daily activities such as going to work, socialising, eating out or exercising. For some, this challenged their TRE engagement, while most were able to undertake the TRE eating window but reported increased snacking and consumption of take-away food within their eating window. For all, exercise habits became unhealthier. The negative impact on TRE engagement primarily occurred during daytime, as social distancing made it easier to engage with TRE during evenings.

CONCLUSIONS: This study showed that even people highly motivated to obtain healthier lifestyles practices struggled to maintain engagement with healthy behaviours, whereas sticking to the TRE window was manageable during COVID-19. TRE as a weight loss strategy was challenged which calls for more attention to supporting people in daily life to obtain healthier practices, also in case of periods of other disruptions such as divorce, serious illness etc.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1718
JournalBMC Public Health
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022. The Author(s).

    Research areas

  • Body Weight, COVID-19, Communicable Disease Control, Humans, Overweight/therapy, Qualitative Research

ID: 319474665