In April 2020, the Japanese government announced the first state of emergency for a month to prevent COVID-19. The measures taken during this period affect dietary patterns. Since people were requested to stay at home, the frequency of people eating with their family increased during this stage.
To examine the characteristics and changes in the eating lifestyle of people who increased family meals during the state of emergency.
Study Design, Settings, Participants
A cross-sectional study involving 6,000 individuals aged 20–65 years was conducted via an internet survey developed by a Japanese research company.
We compared the characteristics and changes of the eating lifestyle of participants before and during the state of emergency. Chi-squared tests were used to compare 3 groups: people who increased, not changed, and decreased family meals during the state of emergency.
A total of 1,293 (21.6%) participants ate more with their families during the state of emergency. Compared to people who decreased or not the changed frequency of family meals, people who increased the frequency of family meals had a higher level of education, were female, were living with someone, and/or had a higher household income in 2019 (all P < 0.001). They also ate a more nutritionally balanced diet, vegetables, and fruits, and felt that they changed to a healthier eating lifestyle during the state of emergency (all P < 0.001). Furthermore, they were more likely to cook more and spend more at dinner and were less likely to eat out with their friends (all P < 0.001).
Although the state of emergency was difficult for the entire population, people who ate more with their families during this period had healthier eating habits.