Special Issue "Effects and Implications of COVID-19 for the Human Senses, Consumer Preferences, Appetite and Eating Behaviour"

A special issue of Foods (ISSN 2304-8158). This special issue belongs to the section "Sensory and Consumer Sciences".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 January 2022.

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Derek V. Byrne
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
Food Quality Perception and Society, iSenseLab, Department of Food Science, Aarhus University, Agro Food Park 48, DK-8200 Aarhus, Denmark
Interests: sensory science; consumer science; food and beverage product quality; nutrition and eating; multisensory effects; crossmodal interactions; sensory methods; food uniqueness
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

As Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) evolved into a global pandemic assessment of coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) patients have presented a health condition including, in many cases, a mild to severe loss of smell and tasting abilities among patients.

Initial work has shown short and likely longer term negative effects on the human senses, with some indications for effects on consumer preferences; however, as of yet, very little is known about the impacts on eating behaviours and consequent longer term effects on appetite.

Food enjoyment is a key aspect of people's appetite, and any loss in expected pleasure greatly affects our motivation to eat, potentially leading to persons affected by COVID-19 to experience core changes in relation to their food intake practices, which may potentially have long term implications for health and recovery.

The aim of this Special Issue is, for the first time, to bring together researchers with key insights on how COVID-19 has impacted appetite and eating behaviours from the fundamental to the applicable, as assessed by human sensory perception.

This can include research from the fundamental effects on the senses to changes in consumer preferences all the way to how and why COVID-19 has changed consumer behaviours in relation to food and eating in the longer term.

We are interested in research linked to perception in and of itself or combined with psychology and physiological responses to understand the fundamental nature of eating disturbances in relation to COVID-19.

Overall we wish to document and bring together key research that is ongoing with the overall aim to highlight and ensure this research has a lasting impact regarding future understanding of measures developed to help and treat people affected during the ongoing pandemic.

The ultimate aim is to publish the Special Issue collection once curated as an open source book volume to act as a tool for understanding the long term effects of COVID-19 on human health related to food and eating issues.

Prof. Dr. Derek V. Byrne
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • COVID-19 and the human senses
  • consumer preference and the global pandemic
  • multidiciplinary approaches to understanding COVID-19 effects on eating
  • perception, psychology and physiological changes in relation to COVID-19
  • appetite and COVID-19
  • short and long term effects of COVID-19
  • senses and health implications of COVID-19

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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Article
Factors Influencing Customer Decisions to Use Online Food Delivery Service during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Foods 2022, 11(1), 64; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods11010064 - 28 Dec 2021
Viewed by 250
Abstract
Despite the popularity of online food delivery systems in the foodservice industry, there have been few studies into customers’ decision-making process to use online food delivery services during the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. This study applied the technology acceptance model (TAM) to examine [...] Read more.
Despite the popularity of online food delivery systems in the foodservice industry, there have been few studies into customers’ decision-making process to use online food delivery services during the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. This study applied the technology acceptance model (TAM) to examine the factors affecting customers’ intention to use online food delivery services. Results showed (a) the perceived usefulness affects customer’s online food delivery usage directly and indirectly through customer attitude; (b) enjoyment and trust are also key factors determining behavior intention toward customer attitude using online food delivery services; (c) positive relationship between social influence and customer attitude; and (d) a positive relationship between customer attitude and behavior intention in the online food delivery service context. These findings provide theoretical and managerial implications that contribute to the online food delivery service industry. Full article
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Article
Trends in Food Preferences and Sustainable Behavior during the COVID-19 Lockdown: Evidence from Spanish Consumers
Foods 2021, 10(8), 1898; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10081898 - 16 Aug 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1289
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic poses a threat to global food security, and it changes consumers’ food buying and consumption behavior. This research not only investigates trends in Spanish consumers’ general food shopping and consumption habits during the lockdown, but also investigates these trends from [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic poses a threat to global food security, and it changes consumers’ food buying and consumption behavior. This research not only investigates trends in Spanish consumers’ general food shopping and consumption habits during the lockdown, but also investigates these trends from the perspective of sustainable purchasing. Specifically, total food consumption (C), food expenditure (E), and purchase of food with sustainable attributes (S) were measured. Data were collected from a semi-structured questionnaire which was distributed online among 1203 participants. The logit models showed that gender, age, employment status, and consumers’ experiences were associated with total food consumption and expenditure during the lockdown. In addition, consumers’ risk perceptions, shopping places, trust level in information sources, and risk preference were highly essential factors influencing consumers’ preferences and sustainable behavior. Consumers’ objective knowledge regarding COVID-19 was related to expenditure. Furthermore, family structure only affected expenditure, while income and place of residence influenced food consumption. Mood was associated with expenditure and the purchase of sustainable food. Household size affected purchasing behavior towards food with sustainable attributes. This research provides references for stakeholders that help them to adapt to the new COVID-19 situation. Full article
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Article
Changes in Eating Behaviour during SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic among the Inhabitants of Five European Countries
Foods 2021, 10(7), 1624; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10071624 - 13 Jul 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 863
Abstract
Psychological factors and restrictions imposed due to the pandemic may influence eating behaviours and physical activity. With the above thesis in mind, questionnaire-based surveys were conducted amongst residents of five European countries: Poland, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Great Britain (England and Scotland). A [...] Read more.
Psychological factors and restrictions imposed due to the pandemic may influence eating behaviours and physical activity. With the above thesis in mind, questionnaire-based surveys were conducted amongst residents of five European countries: Poland, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Great Britain (England and Scotland). A specially devised, structured questionnaire was used to conduct anonymous internet surveys between 28 April and 16 July 2020. It contained questions pertaining to sociodemographic data, eating behaviours, the impact of the pandemic on the diet and physical activity. The questionnaire was made available to internet users in Poland, Italy, Spain, Great Britain (England and Scotland), and Portugal. The questionnaire was translated by native speakers into five languages: Polish, English, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. Survey results were then analysed using StatSoft’s Statistica v. 13 software and Cytel’s StatXact v. 9.0.0. Age was the parameter that impacted changing eating behaviours to the largest extent during the pandemic. It was also found that during the pandemic, regular consumption of meals was most dependent on various factors. The negative impact of the pandemic within this scope was most profound amongst women, city residents regardless of gender and people over 35 years of age. A change in the frequency of consumption of selected product groups during the pandemic was also observed. Reduced consumption of meat and fish was identified. Especially among people under 35 living in Portugal, almost half—45.5% (p = 0.0210) declared lower consumption of meat, and more than half—54.5% (p = 0.011) reported lower consumption of fish. An analysis of the obtained results also showed an increase in the consumption of products with lower nutritional values, particularly amongst people under 35 years of age and also amongst residents of Great Britain (regardless of age). Moreover, the results showed that the pandemic may have had an impact on the weight reduction diet. A negative impact was declared by 16.5% of people, compared to 9.7% who said that the pandemic facilitated the use of the weight reduction diet (p = 0.006). The results of our survey also showed a decrease in the level of physical activity among people over 35 living in Poland (69.6%, p = 0.0497) and people living in Portuguese cities (72.73%, p = 0.0245). Our survey results showed that the impact of the pandemic on eating behaviours was particularly profound when it came to meal consumption regularity. Changes to the consumption of products with lower nutritional values, which may decrease immunity, have also been found during the pandemic. Our results showed that the problem associated with consuming products with lower nutritional values was particularly evident amongst people under 35. Considering the global character of SARS-CoV-2 transmission, further research is necessary to determine its impact on the diet, nutritional status and physical activity. Full article
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Article
Explaining Chinese Consumers’ Green Food Purchase Intentions during the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Extended Theory of Planned Behaviour
Foods 2021, 10(6), 1200; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10061200 - 26 May 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1748
Abstract
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has strongly influenced consumers’ habits and behaviours, creating a more sustainable and healthier era of consumption. Hence, there is a potential for further expanding the green food sector in China. The theory of planned behaviour (TPB) is [...] Read more.
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has strongly influenced consumers’ habits and behaviours, creating a more sustainable and healthier era of consumption. Hence, there is a potential for further expanding the green food sector in China. The theory of planned behaviour (TPB) is one widely used framework to explain consumers’ food choices. Considering consumers’ internal norms, their perceptions of green food attributes, and the shifting consumer behaviour, our study has extended the TPB framework (E-TPB) by adding constructs of moral attitude, health consciousness, and the impact of COVID-19 (IOC). The results of structural equation modelling among 360 functional samples revealed that the E-TPB model has a superior explanatory and predictive power, compared with the original TPB model regarding Chinese consumers’ green food buying intentions in the current and post-pandemic periods. The path analysis demonstrated that attitude, perceived behavioural control, moral attitude, health consciousness, and IOC have significant positive effects on green food purchase intentions. However, the association between subjective norm and purchase intention varies within the TPB and E-TPB models, which showed a non-significant impact in E-TPB. These findings can generate more suitable managerial implications to promote green food consumption in China during the current and post-pandemic periods. Full article
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Article
COVID-19′s First Wave: Examination of Impact on Food Purchasing Behaviour in the Eurozone
Foods 2021, 10(6), 1179; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10061179 - 24 May 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 762
Abstract
COVID-19 has had a negative impact on the living conditions of people in all countries worldwide. With a devastating economic crisis where many families are finding it difficult to pay bills and make ends meet, increases in prices of food basket staples can [...] Read more.
COVID-19 has had a negative impact on the living conditions of people in all countries worldwide. With a devastating economic crisis where many families are finding it difficult to pay bills and make ends meet, increases in prices of food basket staples can be very worrying. This study examines the relationship between the incidence of the pandemic during the first wave in 16 Eurozone countries with the variation experienced in food prices. We analysed the harmonised index of consumer food prices (included in HICP) and the classification of the degree of pandemic impact by country, the latter established with the index of deaths provided by the Johns Hopkins Center. The procedure used compared actual food prices during the first wave (March to June 2020) with those foreseeable in the absence of the pandemic. Time series analysis was used, dividing the research period into two phases. In both phases, the Holt–Winters model was applied for estimation and subsequent prediction. After a contrast using Kendall’s tau correlation index, it was concluded that in the countries with the highest death rates during the first wave, there was a higher increase in food prices than in the least affected countries of the Eurozone. Full article
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Article
A Detailed Characterisation of Appetite, Sensory Perceptional, and Eating-Behavioural Effects of COVID-19: Self-Reports from the Acute and Post-Acute Phase of Disease
Foods 2021, 10(4), 892; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10040892 - 19 Apr 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 994
Abstract
Sensory perception alterations are common in relation to COVID-19 disease, but less is known about the characteristic of the sensory alterations, and how they associate with alterations in appetite and eating behaviour. The current study aims to investigate the acute and long-term effects [...] Read more.
Sensory perception alterations are common in relation to COVID-19 disease, but less is known about the characteristic of the sensory alterations, and how they associate with alterations in appetite and eating behaviour. The current study aims to investigate the acute and long-term effects of COVID-19 disease on (1) the desire for food, hunger, and satiety sensations; (2) smell, taste, and flavour perception; (3) meals and intake of food types; and (4) the frequency of commonly applied strategies to tackle potential changes in appetite and sensory perception. An online survey was conducted among Danish adults (n = 102) who had experienced changes in appetite, sensory perception, and/or food-related pleasure due to COVID-19 disease. Key results include appetite-altering effects at all times during the day when suffering from COVID-19 and often associated with impaired sensory function. Severe sensory perception alterations were found, namely, for the perception of taste, ageusia > hypogeusia > hypergeusia, and for the perception of smell, anosmia > parosmia > hyposmia > hyperosmia. Eating behavioural changes included alteration in quantitative and qualitative aspects of intake. The effects were, in general, more pronounced during the acute phase of disease than during the post-acute phase. The findings illustrate the complexity by which COVID-19 affects human appetite, sensory perception, and eating behaviour, but also point to strategies to cope with these changes. Full article
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Article
Possibilities for Maintaining Appetite in Recovering COVID-19 Patients
Foods 2021, 10(2), 464; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10020464 - 20 Feb 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1012
Abstract
COVID-19 and sequelae thereof are known to cause chemosensory dysfunction, posing a risk for intake and adequate nutrition for recovery. The overall objective of this study was to investigate the subjective strategies for maintaining appetite applied by patients recovering from COVID-19. The study [...] Read more.
COVID-19 and sequelae thereof are known to cause chemosensory dysfunction, posing a risk for intake and adequate nutrition for recovery. The overall objective of this study was to investigate the subjective strategies for maintaining appetite applied by patients recovering from COVID-19. The study included 19 in-depth interviews, focusing on patients suffering from long-term effects of COVID-19. The results were analysed using a thematic analysis for qualitative data. Results on strategies for maintaining appetite included four key themes: (1) a focus on well-functioning senses, (2) a focus on familiar foods, (3) a focus on the eating environment, and (4) a focus on post-ingestive well-being. It was found that factors prior to, during and after food intake, as well as the context, could influence desire to eat and pleasure related to food intake. As ageusia and anosmia make characterization of food difficult, being able to recognize and memorize its flavour was important to engage in consumption. Under normal circumstances, the hedonic value of food relies predominantly on the flavour of foods. When suffering from chemosensory dysfunction, shifting focus towards the texture of food, including trigeminal stimulation during consumption, were beneficial for maintaining appetite and food-related pleasure. Furthermore, a focus on the holistic satisfying feelings of choosing healthy food, as well as a focus on other people’s enjoyment during meals were reported to boost well-being around food intake. The study elaborated our understanding of the complex consequences of COVID-19, and can be applied in health promoting initiatives targeted patients recovering from COVID-19. Full article
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Article
COVID-19 Lockdown and Self-Perceived Changes of Food Choice, Waste, Impulse Buying and Their Determinants in Italy: QuarantEat, a Cross-Sectional Study
Foods 2021, 10(2), 306; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10020306 - 02 Feb 2021
Cited by 19 | Viewed by 3425
Abstract
Data about self-perceived food choice (FC) changes and their determinants during COVID-19 lockdowns are limited. This study investigated how the Italian lockdown affected self-perceived food purchases (FP), occurrence of impulse buying (IB), household food waste production (HFWP) and their determinants. A web-based cross-sectional [...] Read more.
Data about self-perceived food choice (FC) changes and their determinants during COVID-19 lockdowns are limited. This study investigated how the Italian lockdown affected self-perceived food purchases (FP), occurrence of impulse buying (IB), household food waste production (HFWP) and their determinants. A web-based cross-sectional survey was distributed in May 2020, collecting an opportunistic sample of the Italian population. A total of 1865 (70% females) people were enrolled, the median age was 29 (IQR 16.0). Most of the sample increased overall FP (53.4%), food consumption (43.4%), reduced HFWP (53.7%) and halved the prevalence of IB (20.9%) compared to the period before the lockdown (42.5%). Baking ingredients, fresh vegetables, fresh fruit and chocolate had the largest sales increase by individuals, while bakery products, fresh fish and salted snacks purchases highly decreased. Increased FP was associated with the occurrence of IB (adjOR 2.48, p < 0.001) and inversely associated with not having worked during lockdown (adjOR 0.71, p = 0.003). Multivariable logistic regressions revealed occurrence of IB was associated with low perceived dietary quality (adjOR 2.22, p < 0.001), resulting at risk, according to the Emotional Overeating Questionnaire (EOQ, adjOR 1.68, p < 0.001), and inversely associated with decreased HFWP (adjOR 0.73, p < 0.012). Reduced HFWP was associated with higher perceived dietary quality (adjOR 2.27, p < 0.001) and negatively associated with low score at WHO-5 Well-Being Index (adjOR 0.72, p = 0.002). The Italian lockdown highly affected FC behaviours, leading to positive and sustainable habits towards food purchase and consumption. Public health interventions are needed to keep these new positive effects and avoid negative consequences in case of future lockdowns. Full article
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Review

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Review
Trends in Coffee and Tea Consumption during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Foods 2021, 10(10), 2458; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10102458 - 15 Oct 2021
Viewed by 763
Abstract
Over the last two years, many countries have enforced confinement to limit both the spread of COVID-19 and the demand for medical care. Confinement has resulted in a disruption of work routines, boredom, depression, and changes in eating habits, among them consumption of [...] Read more.
Over the last two years, many countries have enforced confinement to limit both the spread of COVID-19 and the demand for medical care. Confinement has resulted in a disruption of work routines, boredom, depression, and changes in eating habits, among them consumption of coffee and tea. Following six databases, we examined articles tracking consumption of these beverages. Out of 472 articles, including 23 beverage entries, 13 matched our criteria. While no clear trend in coffee consumption during the coronavirus pandemic emerged (7 of 13 studies indicated an increase, accounting for 53.8%), tea consumption clearly increased (70% versus 30%). Considering the global health emergency continuum, more research is needed to better understand the paths underlying food choices and the ways those changes may influence health outcomes, including those related to COVID-19 disease. Full article
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