The changes in eating habits of young people tracked during the England lockdown show an increase in both snacks and families eating together.
Researchers have found that 60% of young people think that a shared family meal is positive for health and wellness.
The young people in the survey said they wanted to eat together.
The study, obtained from the Guys and St. Thomas Charity and Byte Back 2030 Healthy Eating Charities, looked at one thousand 14-19 year olds.
Biteback 2030’s youth co-chair is 16-year-old Christina Adan of London, who was backed by footballer Marcus Rashford, who applied for free school meals over the summer holidays.
“I don’t want us to fall prey to endless fast food ads and celebrity content that everyone knows is bad for us.”
“I want to be part of a world where our health food industry is a priority.”
Lockdown eating studies have found the opposite trend of “grazing” on more unhealthy snacks such as crepes and chocolate, but more shared meals are available as families spend more time together at home.
It has also found a wide social divide into healthy and unhealthy foods.
The report described snacks as the “biggest negative consequence” of epidemic eating habits, with a 40% increase.
Young men and women from poor families were “more likely to snack, less likely to eat fresh fruits and vegetables” than rich people.
“Some days I don’t eat much because I’m not hungry, but others I eat more chocolate, which I have never done before,” one 16-year-old girl told researchers.
However there was a tendency for more home cooked meals and families to eat together in a way that was not usually possible.
“During this time the food allowed me to reconnect with my family members, we cooked together and enjoyed the food together it I love to continue it,” said one 19-year-old in the study.
“I think I’d like to continue eating together as a family, really try it, since we don’t usually do it, and it’s nice to sit down and eat together,” one 18-year-old researcher said.
This increase was greater among developed households during shared meals during the lockdown – although there was also an increase among disadvantaged households.
And most young people saw it as healthier and more manageable.
Sarah Hickey, director of the Guy and St. Thomas Charity’s Childhood Obesity Program, says it worsens social divisions in nutrition during lockdowns.
“Even before the epidemic, families’ food choices were strongly shaped by where they lived and their socioeconomic background, ”he said.
“This study shows that the almost unequal gap in access to nutritious food has been widened by the Covid-19 lockdown.”