A report commissioned by Bite Back 2030, a youth-led movement for healthy food, and supported by Guys and St Thomas’ Charity, highlights changes in young people’s eating habits and attitudes since the start of lockdown.

The report surveyed over a thousand 14-19 year olds from England across a range of backgrounds, finding the most negative consequence of lockdown to be an increase in snacking, with a 40% increase in children turning to less healthy options on a regular basis and sometimes missing meals entirely.

Young people attributed this increase to being largely due to their days in lockdown lacking structure. Before lockdown, their lives were largely dictated by school or college which provided a very clear structure.

More positively, 32% of young people reported eating more home cooked meals and referenced how they were using, and actively enjoying, the extra time they found on their hands to give food preparation a go and learn how to cook.

Due to furlough, remote working and restrictions on non-essential travel, many families also found themselves at home with more time than usual. This appears to have driven an increase in home cooked meals, with 33% reporting that they ate more as a family through lockdown.

Of this figure, 60% felt that eating as a family had positively impacted their health and wellbeing in lockdown.

Bite Back 2030 is now calling on the government to take actions to make health a priority of the food industry. Actions include making healthy food options cheaper, urging the food industry to take responsibility, advertising healthy food to the same degree as unhealthy food, and supporting community spaces to allow for healthy socialising.

Christina Adane, Youth Co-Chair of Bite Back and the driving force behind the campaign to get free school meals over summer, said: “Being at home has opened my eyes to the magnitude of problems this country faces, especially with food. I want the Prime Minister to listen to young people; see the issues we have to face like holiday hunger, inaccessibility to healthy food and lack of nutrition.

“I don’t want us to be the victims of endless fast food advertisement and celebrities endorsing stuff that everyone knows is bad for us! I want to be part of a world where our health is the priority of the food industry.”