While the detrimental effects of a chronic positive energy balance due to a sedentary lifestyle have been well established, the impacts of a short period of abruptly reduced physical activity and overeating arising from strict confinement due to the COVID-19 pandemic will soon start to emerge. To reasonably anticipate major consequences according to the available evidence, we hereby review the literature for studies that have explored the health impacts of several weeks of a reduction in physical activity and daily step-count combined with modified eating habits. These studies identify as main metabolic consequences increases in insulin resistance, total body fat, abdominal fat and inflammatory cytokines. All these factors have been strongly associated with the development of metabolic syndrome, which in turn increases the risk of multiple chronic diseases. A plausible mechanism involved in these impacts could be a positive energy balance promoted by maintaining usual dietary intake while reducing energy expenditure. This means that just as calorie intake restriction could help mitigate the deleterious impacts of a bout of physical inactivity, overeating under conditions of home confinement is very likely to exacerbate these consequences. Moreover, hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease have been identified as potential risk factors for more severely ill patients with COVID-19. Thus, adequate control of metabolic disorders could be important to reduce the risk of severe COVID-19.
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