The national lockdowns instituted in Israel in 2020 negatively impacted people’s health, according to a large-scale study published this week by Clalit Health Services.

The research, which included 771,636 medical files of residents of central Israel and Jerusalem, showed that the number of obese patients increased by 8% during the lockdown periods, compared to 2019; smoking increased by 7% and high blood pressure by 6%. In addition, the number of patients with cardiovascular disease went up by 14%, and patients suffering from psychiatric disorders increased by a whopping 60%.

The study aimed to compare the difference in various chronic diseases in 2019 and 2020, the year Israel had three nationwide lockdowns. As a result of the lockdowns, Israelis spent less time outdoors, and visits to hospitals decreased due to fear of exposure.

The study, led by epidemiologist Galit Shefer, will be presented at the Israel National Institute for Health Policy Research’s annual conference, to be held at the end of March.

“The coronavirus pandemic had indirect impacts that led to a worsening of [individuals’] health condition—clinical and mental—especially among patients who before COVID suffered from hypertension and respiratory diseases,” said Shefer.

She highlighted the importance of focusing health and mental-care efforts during a pandemic on individuals with such conditions.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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