How COVID-19 changed the eating habits of Northbrook families

NORTHBROOK, IL – The coronavirus pandemic has changed the lives of families in Northbrook in many lasting ways. Many parents have faced layoffs and a lack of income as children adjust to going to school from their dining tables.

Between all of this, the pandemic has also changed our eating habits – and not necessarily for the better, according to a new survey.

While many parents say their families have eaten healthier since the start of the pandemic, nearly one in five children say their children have eaten fast food more often, according to the National Child Health Survey. CS Mott Children’s Hospital.

“The pandemic has disrupted many family routines, including where and what they eat,” Gary Freed, MD, co-director of the survey and pediatrician Mott, said in a press release. “We know that family lifestyles can have an impact on children’s nutrition, and we have tried to find out how.”

To conduct the survey, Mott surveyed more than 2,000 parents nationwide with children aged 3 to 18. This follows a separate report from the University of Michigan that found American children gained excess weight during the pandemic.

The survey found that one in six parents report their child eats at least twice a week. Parents also identified barriers to preparing homemade meals – around 40 percent said they were too busy to cook and 1 in 5 said they were too stressed.

While 85 percent of families said they knew fast food was unhealthy for their children, 33 percent called it “good value for money” and 24 percent thought fast food was cheaper than cooking. at home.

For some experts, this may not be a surprising revelation.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, billions of people around the world who experienced food insecurity could not afford the cheapest options for healthy eating, according to the World Economic Forum. This sometimes forces people with the lowest incomes to consume the poorest quality diets.

Many food-insecure people are right here in Cook County, according to Feeding America, the nation’s largest network of pantries and food banks.

Before the pandemic, 481,720 or 9.3% of people in Cook County were considered food insecure, according to Feeding America. The continued economic fallout from the pandemic has increased that number to 11.8% of people on the verge of hunger.

The Mott poll found that fast food consumption was linked to a parent’s perception of their child’s weight.

According to the survey, parents who said their children were overweight were almost twice as likely to say their children ate at a fast food restaurant at least twice a week, compared to those who said their children have a normal weight, according to the survey.

Parents also tend not to dictate their children’s food choices at fast-food restaurants. About 88 percent let their child choose what to eat, and only 1 in 3 parents read nutrition information.

Sixty-seven percent of parents, however, say they encourage their child to choose healthier options and try to limit unhealthy foods such as fries and milkshakes.

“Parents for the most part agree that fast food is not an ideal choice, but see it as an ‘sometimes’ acceptable food,” Freed said.

On the other end of the spectrum, the pandemic may have been linked to healthier lifestyles for some families. Nearly half of parents who responded to the survey said their children had home-cooked meals more often since the pandemic caused closures in March 2020.

Find healthy foods

If finding healthy, nutritious food for your family is too expensive or under your budget, an extensive pantry network across the United States can help.

Here are the nearest pantries in Cook County:

Northfield Township Pantry 2550 Waukegan Road, Suite 100, Glenview. It is open from 8:30 am to 4 pm Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday; 8:30 am-6:30pm Thursday. Inquire at 847-724-8300.

If your family doesn’t need the help of a pantry, donating to one is also an option.

In fact, donating to a pantry is easy. Pantries accept any “shelf stable” or non-perishable food – that means you can keep it in your pantry and it won’t spoil. It’s also a good rule of thumb to only feed foods that have not yet reached their expiration date.

See a list of what to feed in pantries and what to avoid.

Feeding America serves 200 member food banks that serve and deliver 60,000 pantries, kitchens and meal programs across the country.

Find your local food bank

Donate to Feeding America *

“The impact of the coronavirus on food insecurity”

Act against hunger

Photo patch / Shutterstock

Patch has partnered with Feeding America to help educate the millions of Americans facing hunger. Feeding America, which supports 200 food banks across the country, estimates that by 2021 more than 42 million Americans will not have enough nutritious food to eat due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. This is a Patch Social Good Project; Feeding America receives 100 percent of donations. * Find out how you can donate in your community or find a pantry near you.

About Walter Bartholomew

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