They say it takes two months to form a habit. As we reach the end of week 8 of lockdown, the question is: when it comes to healthy living behaviours what’s changed in these unprecedented times and are these here to stay?

Earlier this year we found that a third of families were consuming home-cooked meals more than once a week, with takeaways and ready meals making a frequent appearance at the dinner table. Only 16% of families felt that their lifestyle behaviours were ‘very healthy’ with most families seeking out some sort of healthy living advice.  Utilising insights from our in-house syndicated tracking study, Little Voices, where we speak to 550 kids aged 2 to 12 – and their parents – every other month, we looked at how COVID-19 has affected the way families navigate mealtimes and keeping active.

These past 8 weeks have seen popular restaurants with their shutters down, limited access to supermarkets and a greater dependency on delivery services. With more kids at home than ever, parents have found themselves in the roles of ‘Chef’ and ‘P.E teacher’ trying to provide their children with all of the food and exercise they need to manage this new reality. Despite these changes in our daily lives it seems that many of us our sticking to what we know with eating habits remaining consistent. A third of families continue to enjoy a home cooked meal more than once a week with over half still making the most of weekend takeaways. In a time where life seems to be upside down and constantly shifting, it seems that sticking to what we know, and a routine enables us a sense of normality; what’s more comforting than your weekly Friday night takeaway!

However, this is not to say that we haven’t made changes…and some for the better!

We asked families how healthy they felt before and during self-isolation, and the results indicate that despite consistency in mealtime routines, staying healthy and active has become more of a priority. Less than a fifth of families felt they were ‘very healthy’ at the start of the year, with this increasing to a quarter of families now feeling this way. Undoubtedly in these past months families may have been inspired to take on the challenge of some new recipes or reinvent some of their favourite takeaways with a healthy twist. Nearly half of parents say that they have begun gardening during lockdown, with sustainability becoming a hot topic.   

How families are spending their time together has also seen some positive changes. Keeping ourselves and children active has never been so important, not only for physical health but mental health as well. 61% of parents have said that they and their children have gone for a run since lockdown begun, with 4 out of 10 families also taking part in online exercise classes. Social distancing restrictions have meant many of us have been confined to the walls of our homes, with daily exercise allowances only recently relaxing. With keeping fit at home potentially new territory for many parents and their kids, it is unsurprising that some have gotten a helping hand along the way! 1 in 10 parents have purchased some form of exercise equipment in the last two months and nearly a fifth investing in sports equipment.

Despite some clear efforts to become healthier during this time, 7 out of 10 parents are still interested in receiving more information on how to provide a healthier lifestyle for their families. Keeping in touch with families through positive and encouraging messaging will be key in providing them with the support they need but also in reinforcing positive these behaviours.

Unsurprisingly as the world around us has changed, so too have we, with staying healthy and active as a family being almost encouraged by our current environment where being outdoors and staying closer to home have been a necessity. When we return to our ‘new normal’ and time that we must spend together as a family and in open spaces shifts will it become unsustainable to keep these new behaviours up?

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