Amidst the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic, life, as we knew it, slowly became further and further from the ever-evolving disaster we now face today. Forced to balance remote learning, online extracurriculars, and social isolation, naturally, teenagers are overwhelmed. Teenagers cope with stress in different ways, and unfortunately for many, myself included, it’s easy to snack at inconvenient times of the day in an effort to reduce stress but end up losing sleep because of it. So how does quarantine affect an adolescent’s eating habits?
Firstly, scientists found that emotional eating correlates with worse sleep (Farhangi). In a study conducted by the Tabriz University of Medical Sciences in Tabriz, Iran, researchers noted that “frequent snacking [is] prevalent among adolescents” (Farhangi). Further, they observed that “the prevalence of night eating syndrome in poor sleepers was substantially higher compared with good sleepers” (Farhangi). Based on their research, scientists concluded that snacking, a poor eating habit, was common in teenagers, and night eating syndrome, an eating disorder associated with poor eating habits at night, led to worse sleep quality.
Thus, unhealthy eating habits, many of which are associated with teenagers, lead to worse sleep quality. Given that most teenagers are very stressed out by the pandemic and eating is a coping mechanism for stress, it should come as no surprise that there are many negative health effects of quarantine, one of which happens to be subpar sleep. In a similar study, researchers from the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine concurred that “food intake during the nocturnal period is correlated with negative effects on the sleep quality of healthy individuals” (Crispim et al.). As a result, it’s evident that eating at night is detrimental to one’s health, yet teenagers, despite the warnings from health experts, continue to do as such.
One possible explanation for this is that teenagers are simply not aware of the problem, and a possible solution is to further educate them in high school classrooms. In my high school, for example, we are required to take one year of a mix of health and PE, but after that, we are given no more health education; however, I think we could really improve our eating habits if we reinforce nutrition and taking caution when snacking at night. I know that earlier in quarantine, burdened by the pandemic, I resorted to snacking. For that reason, I wish I was more mindful of my eating habits and took the time to educate myself about the issue.
To close, making poor choices in diet is undoubtedly a public health issue in communities that may lack the necessary resources to buy healthy foods; however, for those privileged enough, it’s the job of public health officials, educators, and students alike to enforce and develop healthy diet choices. Especially in a quarantine that has tired the best of us, we must continue making smart decisions on what foods we should consume and when we should consume them.
Crispim, Cibele Aparecida, et al. “Relationship between Food Intake and Sleep Pattern in
Healthy Individuals.” Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, vol. 07, no. 06, 15 Dec. 2011,
pp. 659–664, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3227713/, 10.5664/jcsm.1476.
Accessed 20 Aug. 2020.
Farhangi, Mahdieh Abbasalizad. “Night Eating Syndrome and Its Relationship with Emotional Eating,
Sleep Quality and Nutritional Status Among Adolescents’ Boys.” Community Mental Health Journal, vol. 55, no. 8, 16 Mar. 2019, pp. 1411–1418, link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10597-019-00395-8#author-information, 10.1007/s10597-019-00395-8. Accessed 20 Aug. 2020.
Image 1: https://www.today.com/health/stress-eating-coronavirus-why-experts-say-it-s-ok-indulge-t177659
Image 2: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nighttime-overeating-can-throw-weight-and-health-out-of-sync-201309136658