UCD Institute of Food and Health 'National Covid-19 Food Study' observes eating habits in lockdown
Research Leads: Dr Eileen Gibney, Deputy Director of the UCD Institute of Food and Health and an Associate Professor in Nutrition, UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science; Dr Sharleen O’Reilly, Assistant Professor in Food Science and Nutrition from UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science; Dr Aifric O’Sullivan, Assistant Professor in Human Nutrition, UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science; Dr Claire Timon (DCU); Dr Celine Murrin, Assistant Professor in Public Health and Nutrition at UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science; Dr Emma Feeney, Assistant Professor at UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science.
The UCD Institute of Food and Health launched the National Covid-19 Food Study in April, in collaboration with Dublin City University. Using an online-only survey in accordance with social distancing, the study gathered information on changes in food and drink behaviours among adults in Ireland since the introduction of Covid-19 restrictions.
Assistant Professor in Public Health and Nutrition at UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science, Dr Celine Murrin said: “Modern day Ireland has never experienced such a shock to how we live and how we manage our daily food intake. Capturing the changes that people have made to their food habits is important for researchers and policy makers to understand so that we can be more prepared for any future shocks to our society.”
The study took the form of an anonymous online survey at covidfood.ie, open to anyone over the age of 18 living on the island of Ireland.
Assistant Professor in Food Science and Nutrition from UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science, Dr Sharleen O’Reilly said: “The National Covid-19 Food Study gives a unique snapshot of what different people do with food during a pandemic and how we cope with those changes. We want to understand the food differences for someone living on a farm in Fermoy compared to someone living in a bedsit in Baldoyle."
Deputy Director of the UCD Institute of Food and Health and an Associate Professor in Nutrition Dr Eileen Gibney said: “Food is such a central part to our culture and family life, and is important for both physical and mental wellness. The information gathered in this survey is hugely important for future research and policy in the area of food and health.”
The main findings of the study were:
- Almost one-in-three reported weight gain
- 25-44 age group more susceptible to ‘COVID kilos’
- One-in-five worried about having enough food
- Charities saw an increase in families in need of food
- Children were acutely exposed to experiencing hunger in the absence of school meals.
Visit ucd.ie/foodandhealth/covid to see the summary findings and full report.
UCD Institute of Food and Health is also partnering with Deakin University in Australia to roll out the study there through its Institute of Physical Activity and Nutriton (IPAN), a world-leading research institute committed to improving health and quality of life. Dr Claire Margerison and Prof Tony Worsley will be leading the study there.