The influences of news and social media on food insecurity and hoarding behaviour during the COVID-19 pandemic

Lucy Charilaou, Santosh Vijaykumar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective:
To examine how sociodemographic variables and frequency of media consumption affect hoarding behaviour and food insecurity concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Method:
A quantitative, non-experimental, correlational online survey was administered using a convenience sample of 203 participants from the United Kingdom with no medical issues that affected buying behaviour during the pandemic to examine perceptions related to food insecurity, and self-reported food hoarding behaviour

Results:
Younger adults and lower income groups reported higher food insecurity perceptions and hoarding behaviours. 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 behaviours.

Conclusions:
Younger adults and lower income groups are vulnerable populations from the perspective of food insecurity and hoarding behaviour 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 behaviour, with younger adults more likely to be affected. They also suggest that people are turning to NHS wesbites, 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 behaviour or food insecurity concerns.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDisaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness
Early online date15 Oct 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Oct 2021

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