1University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil, 2Campinas State University, Campinas, Brazil.
Background and objective: Community, organizational and consumer nutrition environments can influence the eating pattern. We hypothesized people exposed to an environment of prolonged social isolation changed their diet in a different rate from those whom were not social isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study aimed to signalize factors that affected the diet quality of Brazilians that experienced different external and internal domains of food environment. Methods: A natural experiment was organized into socialisolated group (SIG) and control group (CG) through an online survey that investigated individuals diet characteristics (Brazilian adults, n=565) during the most (T0) and the less restrictive (T1) period of COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Improvements in diet quality (IDQ) were assessed for SIG and CG. Intra-intergroup changes were verified using the Mann– Whitney and Wilcoxon signed rank tests. The intervention effect was estimated by crude and adjusted difference-indifferences in multilevel regression analysis accounting for repeated measures. Results: IDQ was favored twice or more by attitudes such as buying food directly from farmers/street markets, reducing asking for food delivery, and increasing time spent on eating activities and the frequency of cooking. The CG, which presented a low proportion of IDQ at T0 (-6.1% compared to SIG), improved it at T1 (4.8%), becoming superior to SIG (p<0.001). Conclusion: our hypothesis was confirmed and highlighted the determination of the food community and consumer environment over the organizational environment (domestic or not) for food choices. The most restrictive period of the pandemic forced the CG to experience a scenario comparable to a food swamp, negatively affecting their eating pattern, raising the need for policies that favor access-and-availability to healthy food.
Keywords: food habits, food supply, family food environment, healthy diets, risk factors.