News & Updates

Families living in Scotland voice stark impact of COVID-19 on diet

A new report by Food Standards Scotland (FSS) has revealed that, since the COVID-19 pandemic, a third of parents (34%) in Scotland reported their own diet has become less healthy with 17% describing that their child’s diet was also negatively affected. 

The findings also highlight further evidence linking the impact the pandemic has had on the nation’s health, especially those living in Scotland’s most deprived areas, with 70% of Scottish adults living with overweight and obesity.

The publication of Situation Report: Changes to shopping and eating behaviours in Scotland during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020’, comes as new Scottish Health Survey data revealed nearly 40% of people say their weight has increased since March 2020. 

Dr Gillian Purdon, Head of Nutrition Science and Policy at FSS, said that COVID-19, as well as other issues like EU Exit and climate change, has affected our eating habits.

“It’s been a difficult two years, and we’re continuing to navigate the uncertain economic and social consequences of the coronavirus pandemic and wider global issues.

“During this time, many of us changed the way we eat. This latest report revealed that 88% of adults in Scotland understand that an unhealthy diet can lead to poor health. From March 2020 with more time spent at home, snacking increased by over 30%. Trips to takeaways also doubled largely due to the restrictions on the out of home (OOH) market which includes restaurants, cafes and pubs.”

Dr Purdon also described the impact the food environment can have, with a higher proportion of people living with obesity in the most deprived areas of Scotland.

“This latest snapshot of our eating habits during the pandemic once again underlines how discretionary products such as cakes, biscuits, pastries, savoury snacks, sugary drinks and drinks containing alcohol, continue to represent too high a proportion of the food purchased into our homes, particularly within households in the most deprived areas of Scotland.

FSS’s findings echo those of Obesity Action Scotland which also launched two publications today on the state of the nation’s health.

Lorraine Tulloch, Programme Lead of Obesity Action Scotland said: “Both Obesity Action Scotland and FSS’s reports highlight the significant impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our diets and weight.

“This is particularly concerning as the pandemic brought into sharp focus that people living with overweight and obesity were at greater risk of serious illness from COVID-19 alongside the greater risk of other health conditions such as diabetes and cancer.”

FSS recently launched the Eat Well, Your Way resource and campaign with the aim of encouraging people to make simple changes to help improve their diet. Eat Well, Your Way offers a variety of straightforward steps and useful advice. The guide also caters for those shopping on a tight budget and consumers who are more sustainability-conscious.

Read the report in full, or for more information about the Eat Well, Your Way visit

To read Obesity Action Scotland’s two reports, visit Obesity Action Scotland.