Dietary changes and anxiety during the coronavirus pandemic: a multinational survey

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Background/objectives: The 2020 global coronavirus pandemic is characterized by increased anxiety. Anxiety has been associated with poor diet quality and weight gain, which may lead to obesity, a risk factor for adverse COVID-19 outcomes. The present study was designed to examine associations between diet quality and anxiety levels during the COVID-19 pandemic. Subjects/methods: This cross-sectional, international online study was conducted between March 30 and April 25, 2020 and available in seven languages: Arabic (7.6%), English (43.7%), French (0.8%), Hebrew (42.1%), Italian (3%), Russian (1.1%), and Spanish (1.6%). Diet quality was assessed using the Mediterranean Diet Score (possible range: 0–17 points) and anxiety scored using the General Anxiety Disorder 7-point scale (GAD-7). The Google Survey platform was used to conduct the survey. Results: A total of 3797 persons were included in the present analysis. More than 75% of respondents were female; most completed the survey in English or Hebrew. Median age was 31 (IQ = 18) years. Almost 60% indicated that their pre-pandemic diet was healthier than their current diet. The median Mediterranean diet score was 9 (IQ = 3). The majority (54%) of participants reported at least mild anxiety, while 25% reported moderate anxiety or more severe. In a logistic regression model of at least moderate anxiety, Mediterranean diet score (OR 0.92, 95% CI 0.89–0.95, p < 0.0001) reduced odds of elevated anxiety, even after controlling for age, sex and other variables. Conclusions: Though causality cannot be inferred, associations between diet quality and anxiety might suggest public health interventions including diet and stress control during future mass lockdowns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-92
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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