Psychologists at DMU begin new study into lockdown eating habits

Psychologists at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) are asking people to take part in one of the first studies of the effect lockdown is having on the nation’s eating habits.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 and the imposition of lockdown, the UK – like much of the rest of the world – has experienced a dramatic and sudden shift in lifestyle, the effects of which are only now beginning to appear.

One area of impact is in the eating and drinking habits people are adopting while staying at home as people deal with anxiety, restrictions on movement and profound changes to their routines.

Dr Helen Coulthard and Dr Maxine Sharps from DMU’s psychology team have launched a new study which aims to advance the understanding of how the pandemic may be influencing eating and shopping behaviour, and whether this is associated with coping, health concerns and food security.

And the pair are looking for people to come forward to help them with their work by answering a study, open until May 15.

Dr Coulthard said: “The study is still open and we encouraging as many people as possible to take part. Although everyone in the UK is in lockdown, everyone’s experiences are different depending on environmental factors ranging from who you live with to the extent of isolation.

“The research is looking at eating and drinking habits surrounding, anxiety and emotional eating but also to examine the different strategies people are using to cope.”

She said that while the outcome of the study was unclear, the questions it aims to answer were relevant to huge numbers of people.

She said: “We hope to find suggestions we can offer in the future if anything like this happens again, to help people construct their environment in a different way without turning to food and emotional eating.”

Participation in this study will involve completing a series of four questionnaires which will assess attitudes towards food and eating, eating habits, and measures health anxiety, food insecurity and coping strategies.

The questionnaires will take approximately 20 minutes to complete and the study is open until 15 May 2020.