Objectives: To examine changes in planning, selecting, and preparing healthy foods in relation to personal factors (time, money, stress) and social distancing policies during the COVID-19 crisis.
Methods: Using cross-sectional online surveys collected in 38 countries worldwide in April-June 2020 (N = 37,207, Mage 36.7 SD 14.8, 77% women), we compared changes in food literacy behaviors to changes in personal factors and social distancing policies, using hierarchical multiple regression analyses controlling for sociodemographic variables.
Results: Increases in planning (4.7 SD 1.3, 4.9 SD 1.3), selecting (3.6 SD 1.7, 3.7 SD 1.7), and preparing (4.6 SD 1.2, 4.7 SD 1.3) healthy foods were found for women and men, and positively related to perceived time availability and stay-at-home policies. Psychological distress was a barrier for women, and an enabler for men. Financial stress was a barrier and enabler depending on various sociodemographic variables (all p < 0.01).
Conclusion: Stay-at-home policies and feelings of having more time during COVID-19 seem to have improved food literacy. Stress and other social distancing policies relate to food literacy in more complex ways, highlighting the necessity of a health equity lens.
- Food literacy
- Food planning
- Food preparation
- Food selection
- Psychological distress
- Time availability