The aim of this study was to examine how sociodemographic variables and frequency of media consumption affect hoarding behavior and food insecurity concerns during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
A quantitative, nonexperimental, correlational online survey was administered using a convenience sample of 203 participants from the United Kingdom with no medical issues that affected buying behavior during the pandemic to examine perceptions related to food insecurity, and self-reported food hoarding behavior.
Younger adults and lower income groups reported higher food insecurity perceptions and hoarding behaviors. Consuming COVID-19 information from websites was significantly associated with food insecurity perceptions, while information from social media was significantly associated with more food hoarding behaviors.
Younger adults and lower income groups are vulnerable populations from the perspective of food insecurity and hoarding behavior in times of health disasters like pandemics. While social media can play a positively catalytic role during crises, excessive online information and misinformation can contribute negatively to public panic and feelings of insecurity. Implications for disaster preparedness and future research are discussed. The findings suggest that age is the main predictor of food insecurity and hoarding behavior, with younger adults more likely to be affected. They also suggest that people are turning to National Health Service (NHS) websites, which were deemed more trustworthy than social media, to avoid “news fatigue” and avoiding speculation. Suggestions for future research were made, specifically to examine people’s social support during the pandemic to understand its potential link to stockpiling behavior or food insecurity concerns.