Nine in ten UK households consumed extra calories during the pandemic – as people had more to go and bought more at the supermarket, research shows.
According to researchers at the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), working from home may also have been a factor in increasing the intake of people.
A large and sustained increase in calories peaked at 15% above normal intake around May 2020 – towards the end of Britain’s first lockdown, according to the IFS.
It remained about 10% above normal until the end of the year.
The study used data on millions of food and non-alcoholic beverage purchases at stores, restaurants and take-out.
Calories from restaurant meals fell to zero at the start of the pandemic as they were forced to shut down, before recovering in the summer and falling back in the fall.
But on-the-go calories increased significantly, reaching more than double the usual levels during the second lockdown in November 2020.
Services like Just Eat and Deliveroo attracted more users during the pandemic, with a Which? A survey found that six in 10 people used take-out apps before the pandemic, compared to seven in 10 now.
Calories in supermarkets and small stores were also more than 10% above normal levels during the pandemic, according to the IFS.
However, that doesn’t mean they were necessarily “bad” calories.
The study found that people consumed more raw ingredients than products such as ready-made meals and sweets, suggesting that they cooked more from scratch.
The IFS says the most plausible explanation for the increase in calories is higher consumption, rather than stocks of people or changes in household composition.
Retired households registered the smallest increase and the richest people the largest.
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This notice was published: 2021-06-30 13:51:00