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Changes in eating behaviours due to crises, disasters and pandemics: a scoping review

Lauren Hunter (The School of Population Health, The University of Auckland, Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand)
Sarah Gerritsen (The School of Population Health, The University of Auckland, Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand)
Victoria Egli (The School of Nursing, The University of Auckland, Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand)

Nutrition & Food Science

ISSN: 0034-6659

Article publication date: 27 June 2022

Issue publication date: 7 February 2023




This literature scoping review aims to investigate if, how and why eating behaviours change after a crisis event such as a natural disaster, financial crisis or pandemic in high-income countries.


The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting “lockdowns” and social distancing measures have changed access to food, the types of food consumed and usual eating behaviours. Early research on the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic is compared with existing literature on other high-impact crises in high-income countries around the world, such as Hurricane Katrina and the Global Financial Crisis. A search of four electronic databases in August 2020 of literature from 2000 to 2020 yielded 50 relevant publications that were included in the qualitative thematic analysis.


The analysis found that crisis events made accessing food more difficult and led to increased food insecurity. Home cooking, sharing food and eating together (within households during the pandemic) all increased during and after a crisis. Resources often reduced and needed to be pooled. Crises had a multi-directional impact on dietary patterns, and the motivators for dietary pattern change differ between populations and crises.


In conclusion, eating behaviours impacted by crises because of the disruption of food systems, increased food insecurity and changes in daily routines. Community networks were a strong protective factor against adverse outcomes from food insecurity.



Author contributions: LH, SG and VE designed the study and created the inclusion criteria. LH conducted the initial scoping review, collection of literature and synthesis of the data. All authors were involved in the data analysis stage.VE drafted the manuscript, SG revised the manuscript and all authors approved the final manuscript. VE revised the manuscript during peer-review.

Funding: This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors. LH is a Masters of Public Health student at The University of Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand. VE is funded by a Lotteries Health Research Grant # 1280963.

Ethical statement: This article reviewed existing literature. This article did not involve human or non-human participants, human or animal material, or human or animal data. Therefore, obtaining ethical approval was not required for this article.


Hunter, L., Gerritsen, S. and Egli, V. (2023), "Changes in eating behaviours due to crises, disasters and pandemics: a scoping review", Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. 53 No. 2, pp. 358-390.



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