Controversy exists about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on dietary habits, with studies demonstrating both benefits and drawbacks of this period. We analyzed Google Trends data on specific terms and arguments related to different foods (i.e., fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, milk, red meat, processed meat, and sugar-sweetened beverages) in order to evaluate the interest of Italian people before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Joinpoint regression models were applied to identify the possible time points at which public interest in foods changed (i.e., joinpoints). Interestingly, public interest in specific food categories underwent substantial changes during the period under examination. While some changes did not seem to be related to the COVID-19 pandemic (i.e., legumes and red meat), public interest in fruit, vegetables, milk, and whole grains increased significantly, especially during the first lockdown. It should be noted, however, that the interest in food-related issues returned to prepandemic levels after the first lockdown period. Thus, more efforts and ad hoc designed studies should be encouraged to evaluate the duration and direction of the COVID-19 pandemic's influence.

How COVID-19 Pandemic Has Influenced Public Interest in Foods: A Google Trends Analysis of Italian Data

Maugeri, Andrea;Barchitta, Martina;Agodi, Antonella
2023-01-01

Abstract

Controversy exists about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on dietary habits, with studies demonstrating both benefits and drawbacks of this period. We analyzed Google Trends data on specific terms and arguments related to different foods (i.e., fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, milk, red meat, processed meat, and sugar-sweetened beverages) in order to evaluate the interest of Italian people before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Joinpoint regression models were applied to identify the possible time points at which public interest in foods changed (i.e., joinpoints). Interestingly, public interest in specific food categories underwent substantial changes during the period under examination. While some changes did not seem to be related to the COVID-19 pandemic (i.e., legumes and red meat), public interest in fruit, vegetables, milk, and whole grains increased significantly, especially during the first lockdown. It should be noted, however, that the interest in food-related issues returned to prepandemic levels after the first lockdown period. Thus, more efforts and ad hoc designed studies should be encouraged to evaluate the duration and direction of the COVID-19 pandemic's influence.
2023
COVID-19
SARS-CoV-2
diet
dietary risk
nutrition
pandemic
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11769/558546
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