Exploring impact on eating behaviour, exercise and well-being during COVID-19 restrictions in the Netherlands

G.B. Dijksterhuis*, G. van Bergen, R.A. de Wijk, E.H. Zandstra, Daisuke Kaneko, M.H. Vingerhoeds

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Many studies address the effect of the COVID-19 restrictions on food consumption and health, focusing on one or two measurements. Whether or not any effects are permanent or change over a longer period of restrictions has not been assessed in such studies. This study presented a survey containing questions on food consumption, exercise and self-assessed physical and mental health, repeatedly for six times over a 20-week period (July to November 2020) to a representative sample of 258 Dutch consumers. The majority of consumers reported no change in food consumption compared to before the COVID-19 restrictions, two smaller groups report a change to a more, or a less, healthy choice. This trend appears stable over the course of the measurements. The ‘healthy changers’ seem to couple a healthy and more diverse diet to healthy exercise habits, in contrast to the ‘unhealthy changers’. No change was observed in self-assessed physical health over the measurements. Overall a decline in time spent exercising showed, as well as a decline in self-assessed mental health.

Clearly a lockdown situation affects food choice, exercise habits and (self-assessed) mental health. The fact that habits are able to suddenly change, for better or for worse, and that a decrease in mental health was reported, suggests that such insights need to be further explored to help individual consumers retain a healthy diet and lifestyle, and governments devise effective public health recommendations.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105720
JournalAppetite
Volume168
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022

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