The Relationship between Food Security Status and Fruit and Vegetable Intake during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Nutrients. 2021 Feb 24;13(3):712. doi: 10.3390/nu13030712.


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has drastically altered food shopping behaviors, and the resulting economic recession has caused a spike in food insecurity. Since food insecurity is associated with poor diet, especially low intake of fruits and vegetables, food-insecure individuals may disproportionately experience negative health impacts related to poor diet during the pandemic. To assess the relationship between food security status and fruit and vegetable intake during the COVID-19 pandemic, we conducted an online survey of adult residents of the US state of Michigan in June of 2020. Among the 484 survey respondents, 36.2% were classified as food-insecure. Food-insecure respondents consumed fruits and vegetables fewer times per day than food-secure respondents and were more likely to report decreasing their consumption of any type of fruits and vegetables (total, fresh, frozen, and canned) since the pandemic started. For those who reduced their purchase of fresh fruit and vegetable, reasons included poor quality, poor availability, high price, reduced store trips, and concerns of contamination. These findings highlight the need for adequate food assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic and in future pandemics, as well as public health messages that promote healthy eating.

Keywords: COVID-19; food insecurity; fruit; vegetable.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Food Security*
  • Fruit*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Pandemics*
  • SARS-CoV-2*
  • Vegetables*