Coronavirus ‘infodemic’: from Chavanprash to Kara – Survey shows how Indian

An online study by ICMR’s National Institute of Nutrition reports that adult Indians consume more vitamin C and zinc supplements in addition to vitamin C-rich fruits to boost immunity during the second wave of COVID-19 after exposure to (incorrect) information. On social media.

Traditional Indian spices like Ginger and Garlic were used by 62.9 per cent and 50.9 per cent respondents respectively.

Most of the 572 respondents reportedly relied on social media to collect COVID-19 related tips to enhance immunity. However, those with a history of coronavirus infection are more likely to rely on doctors and health professionals for information, the study found.

The soon-to-be-published study – “COVID-19 Infodemic Impact on Food and Nutrition Concepts, Practice and Reliance on Information Sources among Indian Internet Users” – highlights the need for media and health literacy to support the use of health information. Hemalatha R, director of the National Institute of Nutrition.

“The uncontrolled spread of (incorrect) information, news and propaganda about COVID-19 has created an ‘infodemic’ that leads to panic and unscientific practices among people. With the world’s largest number of Internet users, India has seen a sharp increase in the number of people searching for information on COVID-19 related social media, reaching a staggering 22.3 million by March 2020, “said Dr. Subbarao M. Gavarabarapu, senior scientist and lead researcher.

“The aim of this survey is to evaluate the tendency of Indian Internet users to search for food and nutrition news related to COVID-19 from January 27, 2020 to June 30, 2021 (period between the first detected COVID-19 case and the end of the second wave). In India) and its impact on perception and practice, ”said Subbarao.

The changes in the relative search volume (RSV) in Google Trends of 34 popular search keywords classified by researchers are related to ‘Immunity’, ‘Food Behavior’, ‘Food Security’, ‘Food Fear and Anxiety’ and ‘Covid Fear’. – Immunity booster during the first wave in April-August 2020, a vitamin supplement brand, shows a steep increase in the search for “Ayush Kara” (Ayurvedic Decoction).

With the short period of decline in the search trend, it has again increased in line with the growing number of positive cases during the second wave in India.

The concept of “immunity-enhancing foods” as a preventative strategy to fight COVID-19 infections gained much traction during the epidemic.

“Among the most commonly sought immune-boosting agents, the majority of respondents (71.9 percent) reported increased their use of vitamin C-rich foods (citrus fruits, guavas, amla, etc.) as immunity-enhancing during the study period. (68.2 percent), also reported taking nutraceutical supplements such as zinc supplements (61.4 percent).

Traditional Indian spices like ginger and garlic were used by 62.9 per cent and 50.9 per cent respondents respectively. Although ‘kara / kashayam’ (medicine decoction) and ‘chavanprash’ (an ayurvedic health blend made with various herbs and spices) were widely circulated, fewer participants were reported to have taken them (28.8 per cent and 57.5 per cent respectively), ”said Subbarao. Says.

Reliance on homeopathic remedies to increase immunity against Covid-19 was found to be at least 26.1 percent.

The study was conducted through a closed-ended questionnaire that was conducted online to obtain cross-sectional information from active Internet users in India about their perceptions, practices and reliability of commonly disseminated food information related to COVID-19.

Potential respondents were requested to participate through a media release, a social media post on the institute’s website, and a call for participation issued through an instant messaging app.

The survey form was made available on the official website and the links were shared on ICMR-NIN’s social media pages between June 1 and July 31 last year.

Participants were asked to determine changes in their food safety practice, the type of eating during the COVID-19 period, and their knowledge, perceptions and perceived reliability of different sources of information: newspapers, television, social media, frontline health workers, health organizations, Internet research or peer groups. .

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