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COVID-19: how the HEALTH did you do?

June 16, 2022, 11:00 a.m. (EDT)

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of economic and social upheaval across the country and Canadians are still suffering from its impacts. While some have come through relatively unscathed in terms of mental and physical health, others have been disproportionately impacted.

With children in the picture, the impacts are greater

We’ve all heard stories—some funny, others tragic—about the challenges parents have faced since the pandemic began. It’s hard to keep up a healthy lifestyle when you need to work from home and care for your children or help with online schooling. And the consequences on the health of Canadian adults are real.


For adults with no offspring at home, their consumption also increased, by 11% for alcohol, 22% for junk food or sweets, and 62% for Internet use, which impacts risk factors associated with chronic diseases.

Moreover, adults aged 25 to 54 saw bigger increases than adults aged 55 and older.


Alcohol and cannabis

During the pandemic, part of the population turned to alcohol or drugs to escape boredom, feel less lonely or manage their stress.

The CPSS conducted from January 25 to 31, 2021, found that among Canadians who had previously consumed alcohol or cannabis, the majority (54% in both cases) did not change their habits from before the pandemic. Among those who had previously consumed alcohol, almost one-quarter (24%) reported increasing their consumption during the pandemic, while an almost equal proportion (22%) reported decreasing their consumption. Of those who had previously consumed cannabis, more than one-third (34%) reported increasing their use during the pandemic.

On a provincial level, Ontario (+30%), the Prairie provinces (+27%), British Columbia (+22%), Quebec (+17%), and the Atlantic provinces (+16%) saw the biggest increases in alcohol consumption.


Couch or exercise?


During the pandemic, did your couch become your best friend? Or did you keep doing exercise?

According to the Canadian Community Health Survey, youth aged 12 to 17 did two fewer hours of physical activity per week on average in the fall of 2020, compared with the fall of 2018 (-129 minutes per week). Physical activity levels decreased more among youth living in urban areas (-135 minutes per week) than among youth living in rural areas (-86 minutes per week).

Weekly physical activity was stable from fall 2018 to fall 2020 among 18- to 49-year-olds, while significant increases were observed among adults 50 to 64 years (+41 minutes per week), 65 to 79 years (+55 minutes per week) and 80 years and older (+20 minutes per week).

So, how about you? Ready to start living healthy again? Being active and eating well are good for our health!


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