Encouraging evidence from Germany on children’s pandemic diets

25 - Fotolia_104221214_Child drinking juice - 28.85 x 19.38 @ 300 dpi


Encouraging evidence from Germany on children’s pandemic diets

1 min read

The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that many nurseries and schools in Germany, as well as in countless other countries, closed for extended periods of time. It has been proposed that this may have had an effect on the lifestyles of children and adolescents, with a corresponding impact on nutrition and food intake as children adjusted to more eating occasions in the home.

To investigate this, researchers in Germany analysed the dietary intakes of 108 children aged 3-18 years from the Dortmund Nutritional and Anthropometric Longitudinally Designed (DONALD) Study. Results were recently published in the journal Nutrients.

As part of the study, participants completed 3-day weighed dietary records enabling researchers to examine changes in dietary intakes before and during the first few months of the pandemic (March – August 2020).

The results revealed no significant changes in either the nutrients or the food groups over this time period. However, on closer examination, children and adolescents reported lower total energy intakes (around 100kcals per day) as well as lower intakes of sugar sweetened beverages and ultra-processed foods, although these changes were not statistically significant. Furthermore, there was a trend towards a 30% increase in consumption of 100% fruit juice.

The researchers speculated that: “it is possible, that in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, a healthy lifestyle was adhered to, to strengthen a healthy immune system, and therefore, avoid a COVID-19 infection. The descriptive increase, as well as the observed β-estimates for juice intake in the present study, could support this, as juices probably reflect the recognition of fruit juice as a “healthy” beverage in Germany, even though pure fruit juices have a similar sugar and energy content as SSB”

In conclusion, the authors noted that the Covid-19 pandemic stimulated only modest changes in dietary intake but: “These observations are encouraging, as the Covid-19 pandemic has not promoted unhealthier dietary habits at least among participants with high socioeconomic status”. The authors also recommended that “the examination of long-term trends over the entire pandemic would be desirable in the future.”


Perrar et al. (2022) Changes in Total Energy, Nutrients and Food Group Intake among Children and Adolescents during the COVID-19 Pandemic – Results of the DONALD Study. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14020297