01.20.22

Findings By Researchers At The Universities Of Vermont And Maine Spotlight Pandemic-Related Health Issues

(THURSDAY, Jan. 20, 2022) --  Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) credits researchers at the University of Vermont and the University of Maine for highlighting the health challenges faced by residents of both states during the pandemic.  Of particular concern to Leahy has been the negative impact the pandemic has had on those who were already food insecure.

Leahy, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, said:  “This work helps us to understand what impact the pandemic has had on people’s health beyond COVID-19 itself.  It also makes clear that the pandemic has deepened the existing disparities between those who are food secure and those who are not.  We must redouble our efforts to make sure that every American and every Vermonter need not go to bed worrying about whether they will be able to feed themselves and their children the next day.”

The participating UVM researchers were with the USDA ARS Center for Food Systems Research, for which Leahy secured the funding, and the Gund Institute for Environment.

The study found that nearly half (43.2 percent) of Vermonters who responded to the study’s survey reported gaining weight during the pandemic. Those who were already food insecure were less likely to engage in physical activity and had less access to fruit and vegetables than were food secure Vermonters.  They were also 8.8 times more likely to experience high levels of stress than those with more economic resources and more likely to be diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and hypertension.

The pandemic also had a disproportionate impact on LGBTQ Vermonters, who were more likely to be food insecure and four times more likely to experience anxiety or depression during the pandemic than those who are not members of the LGBTQ community.

Read a brief prepared by the researchers here: https://scholarworks.uvm.edu/cnhsfac/4/

Read UVM’s press release here: https://www.uvm.edu/news/gund/health-declining-us-northeast-during-pandemic

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