COVID-19 and the Eating Behaviours and Emotional Wellbeing of UK Adults (CEBEW): A Cross-Sectional Observational Study
Keywords:Covid-19, Wellbeing, Eating behaviours, Exercise
Background: This study aims to compare the differences, before and during Covid-19 restrictions, in food intake and wellbeing respectively while ascertaining the relationship between various food groups with components of wellbeing.
Methods: A cross-sectional observational study of UK adults (aged 18–65 years) was launched in March 2021 and conducted across the UK. Due to the ever-changing public health rules for the various regions of the UK, questions around food consumption, physical activity, emotional wellbeing, amount of sleep and quality of sleep, required responses from “before” and “during” lockdown restrictions, with demographic and lifestyle factors being self-reported. The study had two research questions: 1) Is there a difference between food intake and wellbeing respectively, before and during Covid-19 restrictions? 2) Are any changes in food intake and/or wellbeing linked to each other in a bidirectional manner? Participants (N = 94) were UK residents aged between 18 – 65 years and were not experiencing symptoms of Covid-19 or long Covid at the time of completion.
Results: Participants were predominantly white (87%), single (43%), female (71%), aged under 30 years (36%) and living with their spouse (43%) with no children (74%). More than a quarter of the participants (26%) lived in the 10% most deprived areas of the country and 37% were classed as obese. There were statistically significant decreases in healthy foods (p = <.001); vigorous exercise (p = .004); muscle strengthening exercise (p = <.002); feeling happy / calm (p = <.001); feeling cheerful / hopeful (p = <.001); sleeping hours (p = .003) and the quality of sleep (p = <.001). There were also statistically significant increases in participants feeling lonely / isolated (p = <.001) and the consumption of unhealthy foods (p = <.001). There were positive correlations between increased light exercise and increased lean meat consumption (p = <.001) and an increase in the frequency of light exercise and feeling happy / calm (p = <.001).
Conclusions: Covid-19 restrictions impacted negatively on nutrition and exercise behaviours, and unhealthy food was associated with loneliness.
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