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Facts and figures – the wider impacts of COVID-19

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We’ve no doubt all found new routines and habits since March, with lockdown, self-isolation and shielding for those who were. New habits. Some good. Some perhaps less so.

Public Health England has been looking at the wider impacts of COVID-19. They’re looking at smoking and drinking habits, physical activity, how people are spending their time and grocery purchasing behaviour, for example.

It all builds up a picture of how we’ve responded to the challenges we’ve faced, and still are facing, and importantly, the data helps us monitor health inequalities, and provide demographic and regional breakdowns where possible.

Some headlines so far:

Physical activity

  • Data from a few days in May shows more than a third of adults reported doing at least 30 minutes of physical activity on 5 or more days a week
  • Around the same time parents or guardians reported that the percentage of children doing the recommended 60 minutes or more physical activity per day was around 23 per cent
  • Compared with a typical weekend day before COVID-19, around 62 per cent of parents reported that their children were doing either the same or more physical activity


  • Between 10 May and 27 July (self-reported) mean weekly alcohol units consumed by adults were around the same, before and during lockdown. Most adults report drinking neither more nor less
  • 18 to 34 year olds were more likely to report drinking less alcohol each week than before lockdown; and 35 to 54 year olds were most likely to report drinking more than they did before lockdown


  • Between 15 April to 27 July, 46 per cent of smokers smoked about the same as they did prior to COVID-19; 21 per cent smoked less and 28 per cent smoked more
  • But nearly 12 per cent of smokers reported trying to give up; and just more than 9 per cent reported started using e-cigarettes
  • More than a quarter said that they’d be more likely to stop smoking now, than before lockdown


  • The proportion of adults reporting high anxiety levels in the weeks prior and starting lockdown was around double the average for 2019. It’s dropped a little but it’s still well above 2019 levels

Grocery shopping

  • Grocery shopping for home is up. Purchasing of groceries is above levels for the same period last year
  • Sweet home cooking has increased nearly 25 per cent; savoury home cooking increased by 27 per cent

It all helps to paint a picture of where we’ve all got to, and it provides an opportunity again to reflect and reconsider our own habits and routines.

Here in Devon, there is help for everyone who wants to improve their health.

One Small Step Devon is a free service that gives support to people wanting to make lifestyle changes and improve their health.

Their fully qualified Health Coaches will work with you to explore how important it is to you to make these changes.

You will then agree an action plan and set some goals. The coaches can help people wanting to lose weightstop smoking, reduce their alcohol consumption, and generally to be more active.

This support is available to anyone living in the Devon County Council area.