Io resto a casa – food, nutrition and health behaviour in Italy during COVID-19

Io resto a casa – food, nutrition and health behaviour in Italy during COVID-19

Part 1 of a series
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a major impact on peoples’ life and lifestyle and has required immediate and sudden changes to day to day behaviour. After a period of weeks in which most Europeans have been in lock down, it seems like it now becoming possible to slowly and carefully reduce restrictions and increase our freedom of movement again. But COVID-19 is unfortunately expected to continue to have a major impact on the way we live our lives in the foreseeable future. This article is the first in a series that will monitor the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on food, nutrition and physical activity and related R&I initiatives within JPI HDHL member countries.

In Italy, the motto "Io resto a casa" was chosen as the theme running through all the information campaigns about the COVID-19 pandemic. It means "I'm staying at home". What is the impact of the Io resto a casa measures on our food consumption and physical activity? The Istituto Superiore di Sanità, the Italian Institute for Health, is publishing a series of updates on the EpiCentro website, offering advice and suggesting activities to improve health and well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic. These practical resources are meant to provide valuable support to health and social workers and, through them, to individual people and families.

To provide more insight in if and how behaviour has changed, the Italian Observatory on Food Losses and Waste has launched a national survey to assess food habits and lifestyle changes in the Italian adult population as a consequence of the COVID-19 quarantine. This information is crucial to feed into (public) health policies and interventions, like the one described above, since such a radical change in the way we live our life might lead to profound changes in our dietary habits and physical activity and could require changes in the way the population is supported to live a healthy life.

The study is coordinated by Laura Rossi of CREA-AN (Council for Agricultural Research and Economics-Food & Nutrition Centre). The questionnaire has a first part based on the PREDIMED PLUS validated questionnaire; a section aimed to evaluate dietary changes and a section to evaluate changes in term of food waste, purchases and food shelf-life management, and cooking habits. The development of this tool is based on the assumption that dietary assessment, nutritional education, food losses and waste are important components of any sustainable food and nutrition system as also stated in the Italian Food Based Dietary Guidelines, recently revised by the same CREA-AN research group.

The COVID-19 questionnaire and the first results are in Italian and are available at the following link. Based on the first results and the evolution of the COVID-19 restriction measures in Italy, a second step survey is foreseen. To know more about the survey and the dietary guidelines, please contact dr Laura Rossi at the following address: laura.rossi@crea.gov.it.

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