Food for thought with ‘pandemic eating’ research

Date 13.05.2020

People’s eating habits during the pandemic are providing food for thought in a new piece of research, co-led by the University of Northampton.

The ‘Food, Mood and You’ study is looking to survey people over the age of 18 each day for a single week in which they note their activities, their emotions and how they are eating.

The results for the UK will be collated over the next two weeks and volunteers can register and take the survey online.

The study is also being rolled out across countries including Australia, Canada, USA, Finland, Spain, Italy, Russia, Portugal, China, Taiwan, the Philippines and Korea.

Dr Josephine Chen-Wilson, Senior Lecturer in Developmental and Educational Psychology, is the UON lead. She said: “There are lots of anecdotal conversations about how we are supposedly eating more during lockdown – perhaps due to boredom – but no firm evidence about this and, more importantly, why that is happening, if at all.

“It will be fascinating to see what’s actually going, so I encourage people to take part in our survey and help us add another piece to the complex jigsaw puzzle of human behaviour during our ‘new normal’.”

Professor Tracey Devonport at University of Wolverhampton has been working collaboratively with colleagues from UON and University of Jyväskylä, Finland (Dr Montse Ruiz). She adds: “It is likely that we have all heard friends and family talking about eating more during the COVID-19 pandemic because they are experiencing emotions such as boredom, stress or frustration.

“We wanted to develop a research project that explores emotions and eating and in doing so provide simple interventions that may help manage emotional eating during these challenging times.”

*The survey can be taken online.