During the last year, feelings of anxiety and depression were registered among the Italian population and affected food consumption. Among the research that explored people’s dietary inclinations during the current pandemic, no previous studies have explored psychological factors associated with the “free-from” dietary pattern. Our study is aimed at understanding if free-from food consumption orientations can be associated with negative psychological distress. We conducted a web-based survey between 27/10/2020–03/12/2020 on a representative sample of 963 Italians. Psychometric scales and ad hoc items were used to measure people’s levels of anxiety, depression, fear for contagion and consumption orientation towards “free-from” foods. Of the sample, 18.2% frequently purchased gluten-free food products and 22.5% purchased lactose-free foods. Most of the population (44.1%) feels very at risk of contagion from COVID-19 and suffers from anxiety (52.8%) and depression (55.0%). Free-from consumers are more anxious, depressed, have higher risk of contagion, and are younger than the non-consumers. During the COVID-19 pandemic, free-from foods can represent for the people a way to restore control over their lifestyle, which was denied during the emergency. However, we highlight possible negative long-term effects of this dietary choice.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)513-524
Numero di pagine12
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2022


  • Clean eating
  • Consumer psychology COVID-19
  • Free-from food consumption


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