Pandemic eating: Study aims to provide food for thought

May 16, 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 one 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 dducational psychology, is leading the project at Northampton. “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,” she said.

“It will be fascinating to see what is 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’.”

The University of Northampton is collaborating with other academic centres including the University of Wolverhampton on the study. Professor Tracey Devonport said: “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.”

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