Background: Social containment measures imposed in Europe during the lockdown to face COVID-19 pandemic can generate long-term potential threats for metabolic health. Methods: A cohort of 494 non-COVID-19 subjects living in 21 EU countries were interviewed by an anonymous questionnaire exploring anthropometric and lifestyle changes during 1-month lockdown. A subgroup of 41 overweight/obese Italian subjects with previously diagnosed nonalcoholic fatty liver (NAFLD) joined the study following a 12-month follow-up period promoting weight loss by healthy lifestyle. Results: During the lockdown, body weight increased in 55% of subjects (average 2.4 ± 0.9 kg). Weight change increased with age, but not baseline body mass index. Subjects living in Italy had greater weight gain than those living in other European Countries. Weight gain during the lockdown was highest in subjects reporting no physical activity, and low adherence to Mediterranean diet. In the NAFLD group, weight gain occurred in 70% of cases. Subjects reporting weight loss during lockdown had decreased fatty liver score at 3 months before the lockdown, as compared with 1 year before. Conclusions: Strict measures of social containment—even short-term—pave the way to the increased risk of metabolic abnormalities in the medium-long term. In this context, adherence to Mediterranean diet and regular physical activity play a protective role both in terms of weight gain and fatty liver development/progression, with implication for primary and secondary prevention. When adopting measures imposing social containment, intensive educational campaigns must increase public awareness about beneficial effects of healthy lifestyles.
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