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How does COVID-19 affect our appetite?

In a new EIT Food project, researchers from the Department of Food Science, Aarhus University, investigate how people affected by COVID-19 experience changes in appetite, sense of taste and smell - and pleasure related to food intake in general.

2020.11.12 | Bente Louise Pedersen

Photo: Colourbox

Researchers from the Department of Food Science, Aarhus University, are investigating how people affected by COVID-19 experience changes in their appetite, sense of taste and smell as well as in the pleasure related to food intake. This is part of a new EIT Food-funded project, which also involves companies from Belgium and Spain.

Assistant Professor Barbara Vad Andersen is part of the science team Food Quality, Perception & Society at the Department of Food Science, which is responsible for the scientific part of the project:

- Enjoying food is an important part of people's appetite, and the expected pleasure greatly affects our motivation to eat. There is currently very limited knowledge about the effect of COVID-19 on appetite. By expanding this knowledge, we can gain an understanding of the opportunities and barriers to affect appetite among people affected by COVID-19, she explains.

The COVID-19 project is linked to a series of studies on appetite, which are conducted in the science team and serve to understand human eating behaviour - and use this knowledge to influence people's eating habits in a healthier direction without compromising well-being.

Digital counseling of people affected by COVID-19

The results from the project, which will emerge from interview studies and a survey among people affected by COVID-19, will be used to support dietitians in their counseling.

- Dietitians receive information on how the appetite of these people can be affected as well as knowledge on how they can help patients to maintain the enjoyment of food. It should help people affected by COVID-19 to maintain an advisable intake of food, which can support a more pleasant and hopefully a faster recovery, says Barbara Vad Andersen.

The project will not only create a knowledge base that dietitians can draw on, but also a completely new technological solution that will make information sharing easier. This part of the project is handled by the Belgian health technology company SmartWithFood and rolled out in collaboration with the supermarket chain Eroski in Spain:

- For practical and health reasons, it is desirable to move counseling to a digital platform. The end product of the project will therefore be an app in which people affected by COVID-19 and dietitians can connect and exchange information, Barbara Vad Andersen concludes..

Project facts
Collaboration partners

In addition to the Department of Food Science, Aarhus University, the Spanish supermarket chain Eroski and the Belgian company SmartWithFood participate in the project.  

Visit the website of Eroski here
Visit the website of SmartWithFood here

FundingThe project is funded by EIT Food. Visit their website here 
Conflicts of interest

The Department of Food Science, Aarhus University provides the scientific knowledge that will be used to support dietitians. Aarhus University does not participate in the development of the app and the roll-out of the platform. The application part of the EIT Food project takes place in Spain and Belgium.

Read moreVisit the project website here 
ContactResearch Responsible Barbara Vad Andersen, Department of Food Science, Aarhus University: barbarav.andersen@food.au.dk    

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