How did the dietary habits of patients with chronic medical conditions change during COVID-19?

Sahil K. Patel, BS; and Adarsh Gupta, DO
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: May 30, 2022

Accepted: August 19, 2022

Published: September 14, 2022

  • Sahil K. Patel, BS, 

    Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, Stratford, NJ, USA

  • Adarsh Gupta, DO, 

    Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, Stratford, NJ, USA

J Osteopath Med; 123(1): 7-17

Context: Previous studies have examined the changes in the dietary habits of general populations during the COVID-19 pandemic but have not focused on specific populations such as those with chronic medical conditions (CMCs). Prior to major vaccination efforts, 96.1% of deaths were attributed to patients with preexisting CMCs, thus it is important to examine how this population has endured changes.

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to identify differences in dietary habits, lifestyle habits, and food attitudes between those with CMCs compared to the populations without chronic medical conditions (non-CMCs) since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: An online cross-sectional study was conducted from May 2021 to July 2021. Participants (n=299) responded to a 58-item questionnaire regarding demographics (n=9), health information (n=8), lifestyle habits (n=7), dietary habits (n=28), and food attitudes (n=6). Frequency counts and percentages were tabulated, and t-test sampling and ANOVA testing were conducted to examine the associations utilizing SPSS V28 at a statistical significance level of p<0.05.

Results: When compared to non-CMC participants, with CMCs had a less frequent change in their diet and had better food attitudes when it came to consumption habits. Non-CMC and CMC participants had no statistically significant differences in overall dietary habits; however, an examination of specific food items reviews significant findings. Compared to non-CMC participants, those with CMCs reported significantly decreased consumption of energy-dense food such as French fries, white pasta, sweets, and salty snacks, with notable exceptions in increased consumption of energy-dense foods, starchy veggies, and vegetable/tomato juice.

Conclusions: These findings indicate that participants with CMCs indicated that fewer changes occurred in participants with a CMC; however, when these participants made changes, they were beneficial to their consumption habits. Future studies should aim to develop interventions for the demographics with poor dietary habits so that those that are most vulnerable may have their needs met.

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