Changes in Consumers' Food Practices during the COVID-19 Lockdown, Implications for Diet Quality and the Food System: A Cross-Continental Comparison

Nutrients. 2020 Dec 23;13(1):20. doi: 10.3390/nu13010020.


COVID-19 has led to dramatic societal changes. Differing movement restrictions across countries have affected changes in consumers' food practices, with a potentially detrimental impact on their health and food systems. To investigate this, this research explored changes in consumers' food practices during the initial COVID-19 phase and assessed the impact of location on these changes. A sample of 2360 adults from three continents (Island of Ireland (IOI), Great Britain (GB), United States (USA), and New Zealand (NZ)) were recruited for a cross-sectional online survey (May-June 2020). Participants completed questions in relation to their cooking and food practices, diet quality, and COVID-19 food-related practices. Significant changes in consumers' food practices during the pandemic were seen within and between regions, with fewer cooking practices changes found in the USA. Food practices, which may put added pressure on the food system, such as bulk buying, were seen across all regions. To prevent this, organisational food practices, including planning ahead, should be emphasized. Additionally, while positive cooking-related practices and increases in fruit and vegetable intake were found, an increase in saturated fat intake was also seen. With the additional pressure on individuals' physical and mental health, the essentiality of maintaining a balanced diet should be promoted.

Keywords: COVID-19; consumer; cooking; cross-continental; diet quality; food practices; food skills; food systems; health; survey.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Consumer Behavior*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Food Preferences*
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics*
  • SARS-CoV-2*