NIHR Obesity Policy Research Unit at UCL


Longer-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the purchasing choices of British households


Longer-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the dietary purchasing choices of British households, particularly families.


The proposed research aims to quantify how households’ food purchasing has evolved throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and how this has varied across different types of households. In particular, we will:

  1. Document impacts of the pandemic on the nutritional composition of shopping baskets and look at changes in composite measures of nutrition as well as in important nutrients such as saturated fat, sugar and sodium.
  2. Analyse whether changes documented in 2021 were a temporary response to the pandemic, or whether these changes have persisted.

Focus on changes in dietary choices among households with children and explore how diets differ for families at different points in the income distribution


The COVID-19 pandemic had an enormous impact on nutritional choices of people’s lives. What is currently not known is the extent to which these changes translate to changes in the nutritional composition of the shopping basket, or whether the changes observed during 2020 persisted through the following year.

Aims and methodology

We will use the Kantar Worldpanel and the Living Costs and Food Survey (LCFS) to track household purchases (into the home and out of home) and their nutritional composition throughout the COVID pandemic and up to April 2022.

We will start by descriptively documenting the evolution of our outcomes of interest (mean calories from at home and out-of-home food, as well as nutritional compositions of purchases), and will then estimate the impact of the pandemic over time, controlling for seasonality, household fixed effects and changes in households’ composition. We will be able to compare a household’s purchases during 2020 and 2021 to their purchasing behaviour at the same point in the year during 2019 (controlling for changes in household composition).


April 2022 – April 2023