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Christchurch women’s eating habits became unhealthier after the earthquakes to cope with stress, a University of Canterbury researcher has found.
Dr Roeline Kuijer says her study is the first in New Zealand and possibly internationally that has examined eating habits and food choices before and after a natural disaster.
“Our study started in 2007 but the focus changed after February 2011 and it became a study that looked at health, well-being and especially eating habits because of the earthquakes.
“Until after the earthquakes eating habits were fairly stable. Following the February 2011 earthquake participants started reporting unhealthier eating patterns,” she says.
Respondents mostly preferred food that made them happy and natural content became less important.
“These findings are important as the short-term negative effects associated with an unhealthy diet, such as low energy and low mood, may make coping in the aftermath of a disaster even more difficult,’’ Dr Kuijer says.