Changes in young people’s eating habits during COVID-19 social distancing policies in England show an increase in children cooking for themselves along with more family meals together.
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect people’s lives around the world, one bright spot amid all the difficulties is that social distancing and lockdown policies are bringing families closer together, especially for mealtimes when more families are eating together.
According to a new report in England commissioned by Bite Back 2030 and supported by Guys’ and St Thomas’ Charity, the pandemic has brought about significant changes in young people’s eating habits and attitudes to food since the start of lockdown.
The report, which surveyed a thousand 14 to 19-year-olds painted “a mixed picture” of eating habits during lockdown life for teens. Along with showing a significant increase in snacking, the report also found “a fresh enthusiasm for cooking” along with “a newfound enjoyment of eating as a family.”
According to the report, a third of teens reported cooking more. The report added that there were differences based on demographics with “those from less affluent socio-economic backgrounds were found to be stepping up to take responsibility for preparing meals for key worker single parents rather than cooking for enjoyment.”
More Children Cooking
“32% reported eating more home-cooked meals and referenced how they were using, and actively enjoying, the extra time they found on their hands to give food preparation a go and learn how to cook,” said the report.
“Before isolation, my sister or my mum would do the cooking but now I am much more involved and even do more cooking for myself,” a 16-year-old girl told researchers.
“I often get my own breakfast now which I never did before. I have learnt to cook different egg things. I have made a cake a couple of times,” added a 16-year-old boy.
On a less positive note, the research found that 40% of teens said they had snacked more in lockdown, with children either turning to less-healthy options more regularly – with crisps and chocolate being incredibly popular – or missing meals entirely.
Perhaps most encouraging about the report is that young people in the study said they wanted to keep having meals together after the lockdown lifted.
“Food during this period allowed me to reconnect with members of my family, we have been cooking together and enjoying meals together,” said one teen surveyed.
You can download the report here.
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