Publication Date


Document Type


Publication Title

Preventive Medicine Reports






The COVID-19 pandemic has been disruptive, unevenly impacting health behaviors in different geographical regions and population groups. We examined how COVID-19 affected perceived changes in physical activity, sleep, and diet and the impact of socio-demographic variables on a calculated health risk behavior score. In this cross-sectional study, 505 residents of northern California completed a web-based survey from August to November of 2020. Chi-square and multivariable linear regression analyses examined the association between socio-demographic variables and the health risk behavior score. Approximately 84 % of respondents experienced at least one unfavorable behavior change after the pandemic, with 49.5 % indicating a reduction in physical activity, 29.7 % a decrease in sleep, 33.1 % an increase in sugary snack consumption, and 29.3 % a decrease in fruit and vegetable intake. Multivariate analyses indicated a higher health risk behavior score (less favorable) for females compared to males (male beta = -0.815, p < 0.0001) and Hispanics compared to Whites (Hispanics beta = 0.396, p = 0.033). The negative changes in health behavior observed in females could be attributed to a higher reduction in fruit and vegetable consumption, and a larger increase in sugary and salty snacks when compared to males. A higher reduction in exercise, sleep, and fruit and vegetable intake were the main drivers of the unfavorable results seen for Hispanics when compared to Whites. Findings highlight the detrimental behavioral changes during the COVID-19 pandemic and the disproportionate impact on Hispanics and women. These results are valuable to policymakers to identify ways to support those most affected by the pandemic and its potential long-term effects.


Behavioral risk factors, Diet, Health disparities, Lifestyle factors, Pandemic, Physical activity, Sleep

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


Information; Public Health and Recreation; Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging