So, What's Eating You?

Sheltering in place appears to have changed the way Singaporeans eat, but not for the better. In a study last year, online food ordering patterns during the Covid-19 lockdown, or circuit breaker (CB), as it is known locally, showed a greater appetite for barbeque or fried foods. These were favoured over food items with vegetables in them.

‘We used a data set of real food orders instead of surveys, and this ordering data could reflect the actual changes in eating habits,’ said a research team led by Sumit Agarwal from the National University of Singapore. ‘Our results suggested an association between customers’ diets and unhealthier eating habits during the Covid-19 lockdown,’ Agarwal added.

The analysis included 42,495 observations involving 11,372 customers and 462 restaurants. Each observation with food items corresponded to an order placed by an encrypted customer. The Chinese New Year 2020 was designated as day 1. CB period covered days 74-129, and the post-CB period included days 130-220; days -89 to 73 was the benchmark period….

The findings are consistent with previous questionnaire-based studies whose respondents reported unhealthier eating habits during the lockdown. According to Agarwal, unhealthy eating behaviour formed during the pandemic could lead to undesirable long-term health consequences, such as coronary heart disease, chronic diseases and Alzheimer’s.

From ‘Pandemic Lures Singaporeans Toward Less Healthy Food Choices’, MIMS Singapore


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