Food Standards Scotland (FSS) has published new Ipsos MORI-commissioned research focussing on the public’s behaviour and attitudes towards food during the high-alert period of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The online survey tracked food purchasing and consumption in Scotland for three months from May to July 2020 – before the recent pub and restaurant easements introduced by the Scottish Government.
Results from the latest wave (10-14 July 2020) found that in the last month, around a third (28%) of respondents said they had healthier meals more. Additionally, 33% of people reported they purchased food from a takeaway less often compared to the period before lockdown, either directly because of cooking more at home, being concerned about COVID-19 or the fact they were looking to save money.
In addition, 35% of people said they either bought less or no processed food (such as bacon and cured meats), but 37% said they snacked more on products high in sugar, salt and fat in the last month.
FSS’s Chief Executive, Geoff Ogle, said:
“Our COVID-19 Consumer Tracker shows food behaviour in relation to nutrition changed during the bulk of lockdown.
“The importance of improving our diet and obesity problem was placed in the spotlight during this time, with the emergence of evidence of a link to an increased risk from COVID-19.
“It’s great some of us ate healthier meals more, but the nibbles were also a temptation. Being indoors more often and potentially having more time on our hands has made it difficult to avoid unhealthy snacks, such as cakes, biscuits, confectionary and crisps.
“When our meals are healthy it’s easy to forget around a fifth of the calories and fat we eat, and almost half the sugar comes from unhealthy snacks which offer very little nutritional value and should be enjoyed occasionally in small amounts.”
In the latest period tracked, people in Scotland were more likely to do the following in the last month:
- Have healthier meals more (28%)
- Cook to freeze food for later (25%)
- Snack on cakes / biscuits / confectionery / savoury snacks (37%)
- Cook from scratch (35%)
- Eat together with the family (24%)
And less likely to:
- Purchase food from a takeaway (33%), compared to the period before lockdown
- Buy processed food (35%)
Geoff Ogle added:
“We already know that poor diet and obesity leads to other health issues. We can no longer avoid the fact that obesity is a contributory factor to a person’s ability to deal with the health consequences of COVID-19.
“As we come out of the pandemic, it is going to be really important to assess what we can all do to improve our diet and sustain that improvement going forward, and Food Standards Scotland will continue to play its part to ensure people in Scotland have healthier diets.”