Changes in dietary fat intake and associations with mental health in a UK public sample during the COVID-19 pandemic

Jason Wilson, Ilona Mc Mullan, Nicole Blackburn, Natalie Klempel, Anita Yakkundi, Nicola C. Armstrong, Colette Brolly, Laurie Butler, Yvonne Barnett, Louis Jacob, Ai Koyanagi, Lee Smith, Mark Tully

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
38 Downloads (Pure)


BACKGROUND: Consumption of unhealthy foods may have changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study explored how dietary fat intake was impacted in a sample of the UK public who were social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS: Data were collected from a UK COVID-19 online survey. Fat intake was measured using the Dietary Instrument for Nutrition Education questionnaire. Anxiety and depressive symptoms were assessed using Becks' Anxiety and Depression Inventories, while the short-form Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale assessed mental well-being. Differences between individuals who increased versus decreased fat intake were explored using chi-square or independent sample t-tests. Association between fat intake and mental health was explored using adjusted linear regression models. RESULTS: Eight hundred and eighty-seven adults were included. Approximately, 34% recorded medium-to-high levels of fat consumption during social distancing. Around 48% reported decreased fat intake during social distancing compared to usual levels, while 41.3% documented increased fat intake. Fat intake was not significantly associated (P > 0.05) with any measures of mental health. CONCLUSIONS: A higher proportion of a sample of UK adults social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic recorded decreased fat intake when compared to levels prior to social distancing. There appeared to be no associations between fat intake and mental health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)687-694
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Public Health
Issue number4
Early online date1 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 10 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Faculty of Public Health.


  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • cross-sectional study
  • fat intake
  • mental health
  • social distancing


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