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Journal of Nutritional Science ; 11, 2022.
Article in English | ProQuest Central | ID: covidwho-1960158

ABSTRACT

Tunisia recorded the highest rate of COVID-19 positive cases and deaths in Africa but no studies assessed the impact of the pandemic on eating patterns as in the case of several countries. The objective of the present study was to investigate the perception of changes in food habits, appetite and body weight in Tunisian adults of both genders aged 20–74 years old. A cross-sectional study has been carried out with a non-probabilistic sampling method based on an online self-administered survey. Of overall 1082 adults included in the study, 57⋅8 % reported a change in their eating habits: 21⋅2 % an increase in their consumption of fresh fruits, vegetables, pulses, pasta and bread, while 36⋅6 % an increase of homemade cakes and biscuits, sweets, processed meat, sugary drinks and alcoholic drinks. In addition, tea, coffee and herbal tea have been reported as excessively consumed during the lockdown period. More than half experienced appetite variations (34⋅6 % increased appetite and 23⋅0 % appetite loss). Inequality detrimental to women was reported regarding eating habit changes (women consumed more unhealthier foods than men). Elderly subjects (over 60 years) were less likely to negatively change food habits in comparison with young adults (20–25 years), while ungraduated respondents were more prone to negatively change their food habits. Almost half reported weight gain. As the negative influence of the lockdown period on eating habits with the increase of obesity risk has been detected, health policy may be advised to focus on using mass media campaigns to promote healthy eating habits, in particular for illiterate and young people.

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