Posted: 2021-11-01 19:00:00
Objective This study aimed to assess the household income changes during COVID-19 pandemic among Japanese adults, and to evaluate how this was related to changes in dietary behaviors and food-related accessibility issues and information needs during the emergency period.Method We conducted an online cross-sectional survey in July, 2020 among residents (aged 20-69 years) of the 13 prefectures under special confinement during the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants were asked about their dietary behaviors before the pandemic (before February 2020) and during the confinement period (April-May 2020), as well as about their food-related accessibility issues and information needs during the confinement period. Data from 2,225 residents were analyzed. Participants were divided into three groups (decreased, unchanged, and increased) based on the household income changes due to COVID-19. Demographics, dietary behaviors, and food-related accessibility issues and information needs were then compared among these three groups. Multiple logistic regression analyses were performed to examine the effect of household income changes on dietary behavior changes, food-related accessibility issues, and food-related information needs, while adjusting for sociodemographic factors. Furthermore, the effect of household income changes and subjective economic status were also analyzed using multiple logistic regression analyses.Result The participant distribution in each group were as follows: decreased (34.6%), unchanged (63.9%), and increased (1.6%). Higher proportion of those who were employed part-time, self-employed, or unemployed during the confinement period were found among the decreased group. The odds ratios (OR) of the decreased group were significantly higher than the unchanged group for lower frequency of eating out, and for higher frequency of home-cooking, consuming ready-to-eat convenience meals, and eating with children during the confinement period. Furthermore, regardless of the subjective economic status, the decreased group experienced difficulties in accessing required foods because of shortages and congestion in grocery stores, as well as increased prices. Additionally, food-related information needs regarding reduction of food expenses were also high among the decreased group.Conclusion Participants with a decreased household income were more likely to experience difficulties with food accessibility and desire information about lowering food-related expenses. Furthermore, they reported lower frequency of eating out, and higher frequency of home-cooking and consuming ready-to-eat convenience meals during the confinement period than before the pandemic. Future studies should evaluate the direction (positive or negative) of these changed food consumption patterns. Keywords: COVID-19; Japanese adults; dietary behaviors; economic status; food accessibility.
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