Global changes and factors of increase in caloric/salty food intake, screen use, and substance use during the early COVID-19 containment phase in the general population in France: Survey study

Rolland B.,
Haesebaert F.,
Zante E.,
Benyamina A.,
Haesebaert J.,
Franck N.
Document Type
Source Title
JMIR Public Health and Surveillance
JMIR Publications Inc.


Background: The international outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has led many countries to enforce drastic containment measures. It has been suggested that this abrupt lockdown of populations will foster addiction-related habits such as caloric/salty food intake, screen use, and substance use. Objective: Our aim was to assess the global changes and factors of increase in addiction-related habits during the early COVID-19 containment phase in France. Methods: A web-based survey was provided from day 8 to day 13 of the containment and was completed by 11,391 participants. The questions explored sociodemographic features, psychiatric/addiction history, material conditions of lockdown, general stress, mental well-being, and reported changes in several addiction-related behaviors. Global changes were described and factors of increase were explored using population-weighted and adjusted logistic regression models, providing adjusted odds ratios (aORs) and their 95% confidence intervals. Results: Overall, the respondents reported more increases in addiction-related habits than decreases, specifically 28.4% (caloric/salty food intake), 64.6% (screen use), 35.6% (tobacco use), 24.8% (alcohol use), and 31.2% (cannabis use). Reduced well-being scores and increased stress scores were general factors of increase in addiction-related habits (P<.001 for all habits). Factors of increase in caloric/salty food intake (n=10,771) were female gender (aOR 1.62, 95% CI 1.48-1.77), age less than 29 years (P<.001), having a partner (aOR 1.19, 95% CI 1.06-1.35), being locked down in a more confined space (per 1 square meter/person decrease: aOR 1.02, 95% CI 1.01-1.03), being locked down alone (aOR 1.29, 95% CI 1.11-1.49), and reporting current (aOR 1.94, 95% CI 1.62-2.31) or past (aOR 1.27, 95% CI 1.09-1.47) psychiatric treatment. Factors of increase in screen use (n=11,267) were female gender (aOR 1.31, 95% CI 1.21-1.43), age less than 29 years (P<.001), having no partner (aOR 1.18, 95% CI 1.06-1.32), being employed (P<.001), intermediate/high education level (P<.001), being locked down with no access to an outdoor space (aOR 1.16, 95% CI 1.05-1.29), being locked down alone (aOR 1.15, 95% CI 1.01-1.32), living in an urban environment (P<.01), and not working (P<.001). Factors of increase in tobacco use (n=2787) were female gender (aOR 1.31, 95% CI 1.11-1.55), having no partner (aOR 1.30, 95% CI 1.06-1.59), intermediate/low education level (P<.01), and still working in the workplace (aOR 1.47, 95% CI 1.17-1.86). Factors of increase in alcohol use (n=7108) were age 30-49 years (P<.05), a high level of education (P<.001), and current psychiatric treatment (aOR 1.44, 95% CI 1.10-1.88). The only significant factor of increase in cannabis use (n=620) was intermediate/low level of education (P<.001). Conclusions: The early phase of COVID-19 containment in France led to widespread increases in addiction-related habits in the general population. Reduced well-being and increased stress were universal factors of increase. More specific factors were associated with increases in each of the explored habits. ©Benjamin Rolland, Frédéric Haesebaert, Elodie Zante, Amine Benyamina, Julie Haesebaert, Nicolas Franck.

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