This cross-sectional study was aimed to compare the general dietary habits and lifestyle between before and during COVID-19 among the Saudi adult's population in Riyadh. To our knowledge, this is the first study to investigate the immediate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on dietary and lifestyle patterns among the Saudi adult's population in Riyadh. The web-survey was conducted from 16 May 2020, to 16 June 2020 [17, 18]. The total number of assessed cases in Saudi Arabia was more than 200,000 individuals with more than 2000 deaths, the virus spread to most regions of the Saudi Arabia, mostly in Riyadh, Jeddah, Makkah, Al Madinah and Dammam .
Eating habits may be substantially changed due COVID-19 pandemic, the results of the current study showed that increase in the number of meals eaten daily (more 5 meals) and the number of times of fruits and vegetables intake (3–4/day) during COVID-19 pandemic than that in the before COVID-19 pandemic. These observations, in parallel with previous study, suggest that 15% of Italian population increased their consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables, especially in the North and Center of Italy during COVID-19 pandemic . Similarly, a recent study reported that 21.2% of Italian population upped their consumption of fresh fruit and vegetable. Considering the current pandemic of COVID-19 has no effective preventive and curative medicine is available, healthy eating habits are crucial and elective micronutrient supplementations (e.g. vitamins, trace elements, nutraceuticals and probiotics) may be beneficial in nutritionally especially for vulnerable populations, such as the elderly . Another recent study also reported that healthy foods is reduced susceptibility to and long-term complications from COVID-19 . Fruit and vegetable intakes may be important modifiable risk factors for the development, progression and management of obstructive lung diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease . Furthermore, various previous studies have associated low intake of fruits and vegetables with chronic diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases respiratory problems [29–31]. Fruits and vegetables support the immune system are likely to be in excess of intakes that can easily be achieved through diet alone. This is the case for vitamins C, D and E and zinc and selenium , which contributes to immune defense by supporting various cellular functions of both the innate (non-specific) and acquired (specific) immunity immune system [33–35]. Vitamin C is an essential dietary component which unable to synthesize vitamin C endogenously due to loss of a key enzyme in the biosynthetic pathway . Fruits (mainly oranges) (51 %) and fruiting vegetables (mainly tomato and sweet pepper) (20 %) for vitamin C; vegetable oils (sunflower and olive) (40 %), non-citrus fruits (10 %), and nuts and seeds (8 %) for vitamin E . Furthermore, most dietary pro-vitamin A comes from leafy green vegetables, orange and yellow vegetables, tomato products, fruits, and some vegetable oils . However, high zinc fruits include avocados, blackberries, pomegranates, raspberries, guavas, cantaloupes, apricots, peaches, kiwifruit, and blueberries .
Lifestyle may be substantially changed due to COVID-19 pandemic, in the present study, to COVID-19 pandemic greatly reduced the amount of running exercise or physical, increased in the number of hours of sleep per day, the number of hours of sleep per day, the time using the internet and social media and electronic devices for fun daily. The staying at home (which includes digital-education, smart working, limitation of outdoors and in-gym physical activity) and stockpiling food, due to the restriction in grocery shopping may cause increase of body weight. There is evidence to support that low fitness and physical activity, excess body weight . Another previous study compared interventions consisting of diet alone, physical activity alone, and the combination of diet plus physical activity. The results of this study demonstrated that following the initial 6-month intervention period revealed weight decrease of 9.1, 2.1, and 10.4%, respectively . An early study also suggested that subjects reporting exercise of higher intensities were less likely to gain weight than those reporting low intensity exercises . Another previous study demonstrated that the physical activity of 45min/day on 5 days/week over a 16‐month period in overweight and obese adult resulted in revealed weight losses of 5.2 kg vs. a 0.5 decrease observed in non‐physical‐activity control men, when dietary intake is unchanged .
A limitation of our data was represented by a self-reported questionnaire, which may lead to the actual misreporting of data. Another limitation is the skewing in the geographical distribution of participants, which were from the Riyadh. Our data need to be confirmed and investigated in future larger population studies.