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Identifying changes in household eating and activity patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic

A collaboration between the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography and the Nuffield Department of Population Health at the University of Oxford 




With the recent and sudden implementation of a national lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the home environment now plays a singularly dominant influence in all aspects of daily life. It is unclear when and how mandates to stay home and only interact with immediate household members will be lifted, or what effects household isolation and social distancing will have on mental and physical health outcomes. Dietary patterns may have suddenly shifted (for better or for worse) in response to reduced access to usual food suppliers, and physical activity levels could change strongly in either direction (e.g. dropping off completely without usual access to schools, gyms, and sports clubs; or potentially increased in response to sudden mass availability of online/home-based exercise resources). These sudden changes need to be documented and understood, as they could affect health outcomes in the longer term. As the UK gradually emerges from lockdown, policy initiatives must be based on sound evidence of current and emerging patterns within household environments that will impact the health of the nation.   

Funded by the University of Oxford Social Sciences Division Urgent Response Fund



Stanley Ulijaszek (University of Oxford)


Caroline Potter (University of Oxford)

Karin Eli (Warwick University)

Anna Lavis (University of Birmingham)

Sabine Parrish (University of Oxford)

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As part of this project, a workshop was held on November 4, 2020:



Food, Activity, and Mental Health in the Year of Coronavirus

This workshop will cover preliminary results from the rapid-response project 'Identifying Changes in Household Eating and Physical Activity Patterns in England's Covid-19 Pandemic Lockdown', with commentary and perspectives from international food systems researchers.

Introduction - Professor Stanley Ulijaszek (University of Oxford)

'Lockdown food and the invisible ways tech is shaping our food systems' - Dr Amy McLennan (Australian National University)


'Childhood obesity during a global pandemic: Exploring parents' experiences of stress, change, and everyday disruption' - Dr Paulina Nowicka (Uppsala University)


'Identifying changes in household eating and activity patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic' — Dr Caroline Potter and Sabine Parrish (University of Oxford)

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