Food & meal decision making in lockdown: How and who has Covid-19 affected?

Food Qual Prefer. 2021 Apr;89:104145. doi: 10.1016/j.foodqual.2020.104145. Epub 2020 Nov 25.


The Covid-19 lockdown resulted in all but essential shops closing in many countries, with inevitable and immediate impact on food availability and choice. Reasons for specific food choices influence diet and mealtimes and can affect psychological and physical well-being. The current study aimed first to investigate whether individuals and families in the UK have changed their food choice motivations over lockdown and second to identify sub-groups in particular need of support in the event of future lockdowns. Two hundred and forty adult participants from the UK completed an online survey, consisting of a series of demographic questions, the Food Choice Questionnaire, the Family Mealtime Goals Questionnaire and some short open-ended questions. They were asked to consider their goals and motivations around food and mealtimes at two timepoints: before lockdown and Summer 2020. Results indicated that the sample placed more importance on health, weight control and mood when choosing their food after lockdown than they had before, and less importance on familiarity. A number of sub-groups were identified who may be particularly vulnerable to food-related challenges in future lockdowns including younger adults, parents and carers of children, those self-isolating and individuals who do not live within close proximity to food shops. These results are preliminary and larger sub-group sample sizes will be necessary to draw firm conclusions. Future research should consider the nature and impact of these challenges in more detail across a more varied population.

Keywords: Covid-19; Feeding goal; Food choice; Priority; Shopping.