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JMIR Public Health Surveill ; 7(3): e25202, 2021 03 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2197886


BACKGROUND: Emerging evidence demonstrates that obesity is associated with a higher risk of COVID-19 morbidity and mortality. Excessive alcohol consumption and "comfort eating" as coping mechanisms during times of high stress have been shown to further exacerbate mental and physical ill-health. Global examples suggest that unhealthy food and alcohol brands and companies are using the COVID-19 pandemic to further market their products. However, there has been no systematic, in-depth analysis of how "Big Food" and "Big Alcohol" are capitalizing on the COVID-19 pandemic to market their products and brands. OBJECTIVE: We aimed to quantify the extent and nature of online marketing by alcohol and unhealthy food and beverage companies during the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia. METHODS: We conducted a content analysis of all COVID-19-related social media posts made by leading alcohol and unhealthy food and beverage brands (n=42) and their parent companies (n=12) over a 4-month period (February to May 2020) during the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia. RESULTS: Nearly 80% of included brands and all parent companies posted content related to COVID-19 during the 4-month period. Quick service restaurants (QSRs), food and alcohol delivery companies, alcohol brands, and bottle shops were the most active in posting COVID-19-related content. The most common themes for COVID-19-related marketing were isolation activities and community support. Promotion of hygiene and home delivery was also common, particularly for QSRs and alcohol and food delivery companies. Parent companies were more likely to post about corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, such as donations of money and products, and to offer health advice. CONCLUSIONS: This is the first study to show that Big Food and Big Alcohol are incessantly marketing their products and brands on social media platforms using themes related to COVID-19, such as isolation activities and community support. Parent companies are frequently posting about CSR initiatives, such as donations of money and products, thereby creating a fertile environment to loosen current regulation or resist further industry regulation. "COVID-washing" by large alcohol brands, food and beverage brands, and their parent companies is both common and concerning. The need for comprehensive regulations to restrict unhealthy food and alcohol marketing, as recommended by the World Health Organization, is particularly acute in the COVID-19 context and is urgently required to "build back better" in a post-COVID-19 world.

COVID-19 , Food Industry , Marketing/methods , Marketing/statistics & numerical data , Social Media/statistics & numerical data , Alcoholic Beverages/statistics & numerical data , Australia/epidemiology , Food/statistics & numerical data , Humans
PLoS One ; 16(12): e0261381, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1638694


The Covid-19 pandemic has brought forth a major landscape shock in the mobility sector. Due to its recentness, researchers have just started studying and understanding the implications of this crisis on mobility. We contribute by combining mobility data from various sources to bring a novel angle to understanding mobility patterns during Covid-19. The goal is to expose relations between mobility and Covid-19 variables and understand them by using our data. This is crucial information for governments to understand and address the underlying root causes of the impact.

COVID-19/economics , COVID-19/prevention & control , Marketing/statistics & numerical data , Pandemics/economics , Pandemics/prevention & control , Patient Isolation/methods , SARS-CoV-2 , Travel/statistics & numerical data , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/mortality , Humans , Netherlands/epidemiology
PLoS One ; 16(1): e0244302, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1013210


BACKGROUND: Despite the benefits offered by an abundance of health applications promoted on app marketplaces (e.g., Google Play Store), the wide adoption of mobile health and e-health apps is yet to come. OBJECTIVE: This study aims to investigate the current landscape of smartphone apps that focus on improving and sustaining health and wellbeing. Understanding the categories that popular apps focus on and the relevant features provided to users, which lead to higher user scores and downloads will offer insights to enable higher adoption in the general populace. This study on 1,000 mobile health applications aims to shed light on the reasons why particular apps are liked and adopted while many are not. METHODS: User-generated data (i.e. review scores) and company-generated data (i.e. app descriptions) were collected from app marketplaces and manually coded and categorized by two researchers. For analysis, Artificial Neural Networks, Random Forest and Naïve Bayes Artificial Intelligence algorithms were used. RESULTS: The analysis led to features that attracted more download behavior and higher user scores. The findings suggest that apps that mention a privacy policy or provide videos in description lead to higher user scores, whereas free apps with in-app purchase possibilities, social networking and sharing features and feedback mechanisms lead to higher number of downloads. Moreover, differences in user scores and the total number of downloads are detected in distinct subcategories of mobile health apps. CONCLUSION: This study contributes to the current knowledge of m-health application use by reviewing mobile health applications using content analysis and machine learning algorithms. The content analysis adds significant value by providing classification, keywords and factors that influence download behavior and user scores in a m-health context.

Machine Learning , Marketing/statistics & numerical data , Mobile Applications/statistics & numerical data , Consumer Behavior , Feedback , Knowledge , Privacy , Social Networking , Telemedicine