Eating Behaviour Changes during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Systematic Review of Longitudinal Studies


Eating behaviour is a complex construct that is liable to be modified by external factors. Due to the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), many restrictive measures were carried out with the aim of reducing the impact of this disease. As a result, lifestyles were disrupted, which could affect eating behaviours. The aim of this systematic review of longitudinal studies was to assess changes in eating behaviour during the COVID-19 pandemic by establishing a comparison of eating behaviours before and after the outbreak of the pandemic. This study followed the PRISMA guidelines (PROSPERO: CRD42020203246), whereas to assess the quality of the studies, the Newcastle-Ottawa Quality Assessment Scale (NOS) was applied. Out of a set of 826 studies, 23 were included in this systematic review. The main findings provided information about a shift towards modified eating behaviours, characterized by an increased snack frequency and a preference for sweets and ultra-processed food rather than fruits, vegetables, and fresh food. Additionally, an increased alcohol consumption was found among different countries. Consequently, adherence to healthy diets decreased. These findings are relevant to future policies and strategies to assess nutrition in cases of alarming situations such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Keywords: COVID-19, eating behaviour, longitudinal studies, systematic review