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The dietary impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

O'Connell, Martin, Smith, Kate and Stroud, Rebekah (2022) The dietary impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Health Economics, 84. ISSN 0167-6296

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2022.102641


The COVID-19 pandemic led to significant changes in people's budgets, the opportunity cost of their time, and where they can purchase and consume food. We use novel data on food and non-alcoholic drink purchases from stores, takeaways, restaurants and other outlets to estimate the impact of the pandemic on the diets of a large, representative panel of British households. We find that a substantial and persistent increase in calories consumed at home more than offset reductions in calories eaten out. Households increased total calories relative to pre-pandemic by 280 per adult per day from March to July 2020, and by 150 from July to the end of 2020. Although quantity increased, there was little change in diet quality over the pandemic. All socioeconomic groups increased their calorie intake, with the largest rises for the highest SES households and the smallest for retired ones. We estimate that the changes could increase the proportion of adults who are overweight by at least five percentage points, two years after the pandemic onset.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2022 The Authors
Divisions: LSE
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
JEL classification: D - Microeconomics > D1 - Household Behavior and Family Economics > D12 - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
I - Health, Education, and Welfare > I1 - Health > I12 - Health Production: Nutrition, Mortality, Morbidity, Suicide, Substance Abuse and Addiction, Disability, and Economic Behavior
I - Health, Education, and Welfare > I3 - Welfare and Poverty > I31 - General Welfare; Basic Needs; Living Standards; Quality of Life; Happiness
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2022 11:12
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2024 23:25

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