MONTREAL -- The responses of a few thousand Quebecers to a questionnaire on their lifestyle clearly show that the current health crisis has been a negative vector in several respects over the past year.

Recent results from some 60 questions asked online to approximately 3,300 adults allowed the Quebec Institute of Public Health (INSPQ) to illustrate graphs showing deteriorations in the quality of sleep, consumption of junk food, fruits and vegetables, screen time, physical activity and weight gain.

Respondents admitted that during the period from Dec. 11 to 23 compared to the same time last year, the quality of sleep decreased for many, especially among those aged between 18 and 59 years. Women seemed to be more affected by the phenomenon than men.

Junk food consumption in the past month compared to the same time last year increased significantly in the 18-24 age group, and to a somewhat lesser extent among those aged 25 to 44. On the other hand, it decreased significantly in people aged 60 and over.

Concern about weight has been stronger, especially among younger people and more often among women, but it has been present in the past month among many people of all age groups.

Questionnaire responses also indicate that people aged 18 to 24 ate the most fruit and vegetables in the last month out of all the age groups. However, consumption of fruit and vegetables in this age group also decreased the most from the past year.

Physical activity among respondents dropped considerably in the past month. Respondents of all age categories admitted a significant decline in this regard, although the decline was somewhat smaller for those aged 60 to 69 compared to the previous year.

Finally, there was an unsurprising big increase in the time spent on screens by respondents of all ages, even those aged 70 and over and slightly more among women than men.

The INSPQ reports that a sedentary lifestyle, lack of physical activity, poor quality of sleep and poor diet are recognized factors in obesity and many chronic diseases which already represent a significant health and economic burden in Quebec.

The Institute adds that the results of its survey must be interpreted with caution because non-probability sampling does not present a margin of error.

-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 29, 2021.