Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Food Security and Diet-Related Lifestyle Behaviors: An Analytical Study of Google Trends-Based Query Volumes

Nutrients. 2020 Oct 12;12(10):3103. doi: 10.3390/nu12103103.

Abstract

The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV)-2 disease (COVID)-19 is having profound effects on the global economy and food trade. Limited data are available on how this pandemic is affecting our dietary and lifestyle-related behaviors at the global level. Google Trends was used to obtain worldwide relative search volumes (RSVs) covering a timeframe from before the COVID-19 pandemic 1 June 2019 to 27 April 2020. Spearman's rank-order correlation coefficients were used to measure relationships between daily confirmed cases and aforementioned RSVs between 31 December 2019 and 15 April 2020. RSV curves showed increased interest in multiple keywords related to dietary and lifestyle behaviors during the COVID-19 lockdown period in March and April 2020. Spearman's correlation analysis showed that the strongest variables in each keyword category were (1) food security (food shortage: r = 0.749, food bank: r = 0.660, and free food: r = 0.555; all p < 0.001), (2) dietary behaviors (delivery: r = 0.780, restaurant: r = -0.731, take-away: r = 0.731, and food-delivery: r = 0.693; all p < 0.001), (3) outdoor-related behaviors (resort: r = -0.922, hotel: r = -0.913, cinema: r = -0.844, park: r = -0.827, fitness: r = -0.817, gym: r = -0.811; plant: r = 0.749, sunbathing: r = 0.668, and online: r = 0.670; all p < 0.001), and (4) immune-related nutrients/herbs/foods (vitamin C: r = 0.802, vitamin A: r = 0.780, zinc: r = 0.781, immune: r = 0.739, vitamin E: r = 0.707, garlic: r = 0.667, omega-3 fatty acid: r = -0.633, vitamin D: r = 0.549, and turmeric: r = 0.545; all p < 0.001). Restricted movement has affected peoples' dietary and lifestyle behaviors as people tend to search for immune-boosting nutrients/herbs and have replaced outdoor activities with sedentary indoor behaviors.

Keywords: COVID-19; Google Trends; diet; food security; lifestyle behavior; nutrition.

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus
  • Coronavirus
  • Coronavirus Infections* / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Infections* / immunology
  • Coronavirus Infections* / virology
  • Curcuma
  • Diet*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Food Supply*
  • Garlic
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Information Seeking Behavior
  • Life Style*
  • Nutrients
  • Pandemics*
  • Pneumonia, Viral* / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Viral* / immunology
  • Pneumonia, Viral* / virology
  • Restaurants
  • Search Engine
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
  • Social Isolation*
  • Trace Elements
  • Vitamins

Substances

  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Trace Elements
  • Vitamins

Supplementary concepts

  • COVID-19
  • severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2