Eating behavior of preschool-age children during social distancing period due to COVID-19




Feeding behavior; Preschool; COVID-19; Children.


The aim of the study was to investigate the eating behavior of preschool children during the social isolation period of the first wave of COVID-19 in Fortaleza, Ceará. This is a cross-sectional observational study, carried out with caregivers of preschool children aged from 2 to 6 years. The PENSE questionnaire (IBGE) was used to collect socio-economic data and the data referring to eating behavior was used the CEBQ. 286 parents (mother and father) and their children participated in the research, of which 53.8% were female. The preschoolers in the study constituted 5.2% of infant I, 9.8% infant II, 14.7% infant III, 20.6% infant IV, 23.1% infant V, 15.4% 1-year elementary school and 11.2% did not attend school. As for the education of most mothers, 83.9% completed higher education. Regarding the number of people who lived in the household, 44.4% lived with 4 people and 73.1% had 1 child. The highest mean values ​​are present in the dimension "Pleasure to eat" (EF) and "Response to satiety" (SR), while the lowest refer to the dimensions "About Emotional Intake" (EOE) and "Response to food" (FR). The statistical results of the “Food Fussiness” (FF) subscale point out important aspects about the selectivity in the sample of the present study, demonstrating a good tendency to picky eating. The dimension with the lowest mean was “Emotional Overeating”, demonstrating that when confined due to the COVID-19 pandemic, preschoolers still have EOE lower than all other subscales. It follows that children in preschool stage have presented a higher prevalence in subscales that are linked to food avoidance behavior.


Blissett, J., Farrow, C., & Haycraft, E. (2019). Relationships between observations and parental reports of 3–5 year old children’s emotional eating using the Children’s Eating Behaviour Questionnaire. Appetite, 141, 104323.

Carnell, S., Pryor, K., Mais, L. A., Warkentin, S., Benson, L., & Cheng, R. (2016). Lunch-time food choices in preschoolers: Relationships between absolute and relative intakes of different food categories, and appetitive characteristics and weight. Physiology & Behavior, 162, 151–160.

Carroll, N., Sadowski, A., Laila, A., Hruska, V., Nixon, M., Ma, D., & Haines, J. (2020). The Impact of COVID-19 on Health Behavior, Stress, Financial and Food Security among Middle to High Income Canadian Families with Young Children. Nutrients, 12(8), 2352.

Coelho, C., Afonso, L., & Oliveira, A. (2017). Práticas parentais de controlo alimentar: relação com o peso da criança. Acta Portuguesa de Nutrição, 9, 6–11.

Cole, N. C., An, R., Lee, S.-Y., & Donovan, S. M. (2017). Correlates of picky eating and food neophobia in young children: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutrition Reviews, 75(7), 516–532.

Courtney, D., Watson, P., Battaglia, M., Mulsant, B. H., & Szatmari, P. (2020). COVID-19 Impacts on Child and Youth Anxiety and Depression: Challenges and Opportunities. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 65(10), 688–691.

Creswell, J. ‘I Just Need the Comfort’: Processed Foods Make a Pandemic Comeback. New York: The New York Times. 7 April 2020. Available online: https:// (accessed on 18 April 2021).

Dalrymple, K. V., Flynn, A. C., Seed, P. T., Briley, A. L., O’Keeffe, M., Godfrey, K. M., & Poston, L. (2019). Associations between dietary patterns, eating behaviours, and body composition and adiposity in 3‐year‐old children of mothers with obesity. Pediatric Obesity, 15(5).

Derks, I. P. M., Sijbrands, E. J. G., Wake, M., Qureshi, F., van der Ende, J., Hillegers, M. H. J., Jaddoe, V. W. V., Tiemeier, H., & Jansen, P. W. (2018). Eating behavior and body composition across childhood: a prospective cohort study. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 15(1).

Fernandez, C., DeJesus, J. M., Miller, A. L., Appugliese, D. P., Rosenblum, K. L., Lumeng, J. C., & Pesch, M. H. (2018). Selective eating behaviors in children: An observational validation of parental report measures. Appetite, 127, 163–170.

Gassman-Pines, A., Ananat, E. O., & Fitz-Henley, J., II. (2020). COVID-19 and Parent-Child Psychological Well-being. Pediatrics, 146(4), e2020007294.

Hossain, M. M., Sultana, A., & Purohit, N. (2020). Mental Health Outcomes of Quarantine and Isolation for Infection Prevention: A Systematic Umbrella Review of the Global Evidence. SSRN Electronic Journal, 42, e2020038.

Hulley, S. B., Cummings, S. R., Browner, W. S., Grady, D. G. & Newman, T. B. (2008). Delineando uma pesquisa clínica: uma abordagem epidemiológica (5th ed.). Artmed.

Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística. (2019). PNAD Contínua 2018: educação avança no país, mas desigualdades raciais e por região persistem.

Joseph Louis, S. P., & Tyug, T. S. (2021). Socio-demographic disparities in the eating behaviour of Malaysian children during the COVID-19 lockdown. Osong Public Health and Research Perspectives, 12(3), 196–199.

Lindsay,A.C., Sussner,K.M., Kim, J., Gortmaker, S. The role of parentes in preveting childhood obesity. Future Child. Spring 2006; 16(1):169-86.

Kininmonth, A. R., Smith, A. D., Llewellyn, C. H., & Fildes, A. (2020). Socioeconomic status and changes in appetite from toddlerhood to early childhood. Appetite, 146, 104517.

Konings, F. P. H., Rilling, F. I. L., Medina, L. H. B., San Martín, A. G., & Game, J. I. H. (2018). Asociación entre conducta alimentaria y estado nutricional en preescolares chilenos. Nutrición Hospitalaria, 35(5), 1049.

Ludvigsson, J. F. (2020). Systematic review of COVID‐19 in children shows milder cases and a better prognosis than adults. Acta Paediatrica, 109(6), 1088–1095.

Lippi, G., Henry, B. M., Bovo, C., & Sanchis-Gomar, F. (2020). Health risks and potential remedies during prolonged lockdowns for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Diagnosis, 7(2), 85–90.

Passos, D. R. dos, Gigante, D. P., Maciel, F. V., & Matijasevich, A. (2015). Comportamento alimentar infantil: comparação entre crianças sem e com excesso de peso em uma escola do município de Pelotas, RS. Revista Paulista de Pediatria, 33(1), 42–49.

Pedrosa, E. N. (2017). Efeito da escolaridade dos pais sobre o estado nutricional dos filhos no Brasil. Dissertação de mestrado, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Viçosa, MG, Brasil.

Prime, H., Wade, M., & Browne, D. T. (2020). Risk and resilience in family well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic. American Psychologist, 75(5), 631–643.

Rundle, A.G.; Park, Y.; Herbstman, J.B.; Kinsey, E.W.; Wang, Y.C. COVID-19–Related School Closings and Risk of Weight Gain Among Children. Obesity 2020, 28, 1008–1009.

Sandvik, P., Ek, A., Eli, K., Somaraki, M., Bottai, M., & Nowicka, P. (2019). Picky eating in an obesity intervention for preschool-aged children – what role does it play, and does the measurement instrument matter? International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 16(1).

Scaglioni, S., De Cosmi, V., Ciappolino, V., Parazzini, F., Brambilla, P., & Agostoni, C. (2018). Factors Influencing Children’s Eating Behaviours. Nutrients, 10(6), 706.

Sidor, A., & Rzymski, P. (2020). Dietary Choices and Habits during COVID-19 Lockdown: Experience from Poland. Nutrients, 12(6), 1657.

Spahić, R., & Pranjić, N. (2019). Children’s Eating Behaviour Questionnaire: association with BMI in children aged 3–10 years from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Public Health Nutrition, 22(18), 3360–3367.

Taylor, C. M., & Emmett, P. M. (2018). Picky eating in children: causes and consequences. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 78(02), 161–169.

Viana, V., & Sinde, S. (2012). O comportamento alimentar em crianças: Estudo de validação de um questionário numa amostra portuguesa (CEBQ). Análise Psicológica, 26(1), 111–120.

Vitorino, G. F. de A. (2018). Saberes e práticas de crianças pré-escolares relacionados ao estilo de vida: o caso de uma escola municipal. Dissertação de mestrado, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Recife, PE, Brasil.

Wardle, J., Guthrie, C. A., Sanderson, S., & Rapoport, L. (2001). Development of the Children’s Eating Behaviour Questionnaire. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 42(7), 963–970.

Wolstenholme, H., Kelly, C., Hennessy, M., & Heary, C. (2020). Childhood fussy/picky eating behaviours: a systematic review and synthesis of qualitative studies. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 17(1).




How to Cite

MENEZES, E. V. A. de .; DANZIATO NETO, M. A. .; ARRUDA, S. P. M. .; MACHADO, M. M. T. . Eating behavior of preschool-age children during social distancing period due to COVID-19. Research, Society and Development, [S. l.], v. 10, n. 17, p. e07101722435, 2021. DOI: 10.33448/rsd-v10i17.22435. Disponível em: Acesso em: 17 jan. 2022.



Health Sciences