Food delivery makes junk food more accessible for everyone

COVID-19 pandemic caused a widespread lockdown. You may be one of those people who had to adapt to working from home. Food delivery services enjoyed a nice boost during this time, but scientists from the University of Sydney say that there is a negative in this – food delivery services making junk foods more accessible.

COVID-19 lockdown is a great opportunity to improve yourself, but a lot of people eat a lot of junk food. Image credit: Nenad Stojkovic via Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0)

Scientists examined publicly available data on the healthiness of the most popular food outlets and menu items advertised on an online food delivery service in Sydney and Auckland. Unsurprisingly, scientists found that a lot of food in the menus in food delivery services is actually really bad for you. In both cities most popular food outlets were classified as unhealthy – this factor reached 73 % in Sydney and 74 % in Auckland. Respectively, just 5 and 4 % of outlets were classified as healthy. Furthermore, 83 % of food items in the menus in Sydney were unhealthy – the same category took 74 % of the most popular food items in Auckland. Many people who were ordering unhealthy foods also chose a sugary beverage to come with it.

Scientists also found that  90 % of delivery distances were much greater than 1 km, which means that food delivery services make unhealthy food more accessible. Your geographical location doesn’t matter as much as it used to – you don’t have to go to a restaurant near you, you have all the junk food in the world in your pocket. At the same time scientists say that the opposite is true as well – these food delivery services could make healthy food more accessible too, because our food neighbourhoods are just getting bigger in all fronts.

Obviously, COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the acceleration of the demand for online food delivery. In fact, many delivery services had to employ more staff to be prepared for the growing demand.  Dr Stephanie Partridge, lead author of the study, said: “Online food services are already growing in popularity around the world, changing the traditional way people access restaurants and take-away foods. Food delivery services are a really convenient service in response to consumer demand, and there is a potential to direct that accessibility to promote healthy eating.”

COVID-19 is a huge global health problem. However, the lockdown can be viewed as an opportunity to better yourself in some regard. Improve your skills, learn something new or maybe pick up sports. Sinking into the black hole of junk food is not good for anyone. An occasional treat is not going to hurt anyone, but maintaining a health-conscious attitude about life in these crazy times is very important.


Source: University of Sydney

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