A new study by BC Alliance for Healthy Living shows people in Northern B.C. are feeling the effects of the pandemic mentally and physically.

The pandemic has caused stress in many people's day to day life, which is a large factor in unhealthy eating habits.

Executive director for the BC alliance says whether it's frozen or fresh, people living in the north are not eating enough produce.

“We heard so many people were cooking from home and that tends to be associated with greater vegetable and fruit intake, which helps to prevent people from getting chronic disease, so we were pretty surprised when people said, yes they were cooking more during the pandemic and they felt they were eating more fruits and vegetables and yet when you look at what we asked people to document, people were only eating 2 servings of fruits and vegetables per day which is far lower than the recommended minimum of 5 per day,” says Rita Koutsodimos.

According to the study, 33% of people living in the North say buying healthy food is not affordable.

“What we recommend in terms of healthy eating, is to tap into frozen fruits and vegetables as well as fresh. Your frozen fruits and vegetables are just as healthy as the fresh,” says Koutsodimos.

Along with unhealthy eating, Koutsodimos says Northern B.C., has the highest number of tobacco smokers.

Smoking is one way people distress, and with the pandemic, people are using it more than before.

“In Northern B.C., we asked people about how much they smoked in the week. It was 26%, which is 10% higher than the rest of the province,” added Koutsodimos.

The combination of smoking and unhealthy eating is a cause for concern.

“We’re very concerned that this covid pandemic has created a perfect storm and we will see the health consequences down the road from this, because these things contribute to disease,” syas Koutsodimos.

The B.C. Alliance says they are looking for ways to help communities become healthier, but for now it’s up to the people living in the North to make healthy choices.

“Cooking classes are a great way of learning about healthy eating and a good way to socialize. Smoking is our biggest concern, people should seek assistance to find ways to stop or even just cutting back will make a huge difference,” added Koutsodimos.