Impact of COVID-19 on a worksite weight loss program for employees with overweight and obesity

Che Young Lee, Michael C. Robertson, Kendahl Servino, Thuan Le, Margaret Raber, Katherine Oestman, Karen M. Basen-Engquist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The COVID-19 pandemic has been shown to be negatively associated with physical activity engagement, adherence to healthy diet, and weight management among people with obesity. The current study examined COVID-19-related changes in weight, physical activity (PA), and diet among employees with obesity or overweight who participated in Vibrant Lives (VL), a worksite weight loss program. Methods: School district employees participated in the 6-month VL weight loss program and were categorized into non-COVID-era participants and COVID-era participants. Participants completed questionnaires about PA and dietary intake at baseline and follow-up. COVID-era participants reported the effects of pandemic on their behaviors. Changes in weight, PA, and diet were compared between groups using multilevel linear mixed models and logistic regression models. Results: A total of 266 participants (non-COVID, n = 173; COVID, n = 93) were included. Significant weight loss (non-COVID, −2.3 kg vs. COVID, −1.3 kg) and increases in moderate-to-vigorous PA minutes (non-COVID, 48.7 min vs. COVID, 61.5 min) were observed associated with the program, but no significant differences in changes between the groups were found. Compared to non-COVID participants, COVID participants decreased fast food consumption (p = 0.008) and increased sugar-sweetened beverage intake (p = 0.016). Higher frequency of snacking and overeating were reported as barriers to a healthy diet. Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic was negatively associated with healthful dietary behaviors. The information obtained from participants regarding the reasons for their pandemic-related changes in diet may help identify strategies to encourage healthier behaviors and weight management among people who have been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)395-403
Number of pages9
JournalObesity Science and Practice
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2023


  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • digital weight loss program
  • health behaviors
  • weight management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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