More vegetables, fewer takeaways

Covid-19 is changing consumption

Experts from the Institute for Global Food Security (IGFS) at Queen’s University Belfast and St Angela’s College, Sligo (part of National University of Ireland, Galway) have quizzed 2,360 adults across four regions – the island of Ireland, Great Britain, USA and New Zealand – between May and June last year.

“We wanted to find out what impact the pandemic and lockdowns were having on people’s health but we also wanted to try to find a way of measuring the effect on global food systems,” said lead researcher Fiona Lavelle from the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s.

More meals from scratch and the consumption of a “better variety” of fresh food were positive trends, she explained. Brits “significantly increased” their consumption of fruit and vegetables, for example.

There were also some “red flags”, including the rise in saturated fat consumption, which may be down to ‘comfort eating’ during lockdown. The researchers discovered a reduction in the use of takeaways, which could have a positive impact on health but a negative one on struggling local economies.

Policymakers could look at health promotion messages that emphasise “limited consumption” of takeaways, for example as a “treat” that has the additional benefit of supporting local businesses, the academics said.


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