Monday, October 26, 2020
Food and health


Government research has shown that our eating habits have changed with Covid-19. For the better and the worse, let's see why …

The lockdown has radically affected our choices and our behaviors. But, in addition to kneading more, how have our eating habits changed? To answer these questions, OERSA (Surplus, Recovery and Food Waste Observatory) of CREA (Council for Agricultural Research and Agricultural Economy Analysis) conducted a national survey, through a specially developed questionnaire, intending to document and analyze the changes that took place in the daily feeding during the quarantine.

The respondent sample

About 2900 people replied, from all Italy’s regions, 75% of whom were female and 25% male. 85% live with the family and, of these, 22% with children under the age of 12, while 11% live alone. The most represented age group is 30-49 (38.6%) and 50-69 (36%) years. Young people between 18 and 29 are 24%. A high level of education characterizes the interviewees – 68% have a university degree and 28.5% a high school diploma – and 60% poor adherence to the Mediterranean diet.

The results: this is how the Italians behaved

During the quarantine, the respondents said they had increased the consumption of healthy food: vegetables (33%), fruit (29%), legumes (26.5%), water (22%), extra virgin olive oil (21.5%). But in parallel, as many as 44.5% admitted to having eaten sweets and 16% to have drunk more wine. This period was also an opportunity to experiment with new foods (40%) and new recipes (31%), improving their eating habits (24%) and developing environmentally sustainable practices (respecting waste sorting 86%, storing and consuming some foods purchased in excess of 83%, or eat everything, including leftovers 80%).

Finally, 44% of the interviewees gained weight due to the higher caloric intake, related to a lower physical activity, which concerned 53% of the sample. Given that, it is confirmed by the need to go on a diet, expressed in over 37% of cases.

The expert’s comment

“Despite the limitations of a self-reported questionnaire and an opportunistic sample – explains Laura Rossi, CREA researcher – it can be observed that the restrictions imposed by the quarantine have not had totally adverse effects on the diet and lifestyle of the sample in question. Against the increase in comfort food (sweets), however, we also have higher quantities of fruit, vegetables and especially legumes. These are actually data that are in line with those on Italian spending in the first quarter of 2020. And these indicate that the kitchen’s time has been dedicated to the preparation of dishes with healthy ingredients. All this has encouraged moments of conviviality and sharing of the meal and has inevitably led – thanks to the absence of physical activity – to an impact on the perception of weight. “

“More generally – continues Rossi – the attention of Italians to careful food management is confirmed, which avoids wasting the effort in making the waste separation. The supply of food did not seem to have been a problem, and the propensity to spend has also turned towards new foods, with attention on costs that are too high. The children were more involved in the cooking activities, while for the elderly, there is a perception of difficulty in shopping. “


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Ambra Del Moro
My name is Ambra Del Moro, to be fair. I hold a master's degree in Modern Languages and for ten years I've been citizen of the world as I lived in Germany, United States, Belgium and Disneyland. For the moment it seems I found my place. In the joyful Foodiestrip Republic.