Culture& | Can’t influence nutritious consumption? Look to everyday fashion accessories.
A generally decorative, sometimes religious symbol — the bindhi or Indian red dot — converts itself into a medical treatment.
You know about the bindhi, don’t you? It’s the red dot worn on the forehead, mostly by women from India. The original reason for wearing it is that it is a part of culture. Many women in India, regardless of religion, ethnicity or marital status, don it in various shapes and colors.
The bindhi’s most recent avatar is as a medical cure.
Iodine is a critical nutrient for all, especially women. Iodized salt, though made a national norm in India, was difficult to obtain in some rural places.
They have used the strongly imbibed cultural behaviour of wearing a bindhi to cure iodine deficiency in women by using the bindhi as a wearable medical device.
The wearable medical solution is a standard scarlet bindi with a twist: Each bindi’s adhesive comes covered with 150–200 micrograms of iodine. Throughout the day, a woman wearing the iodine bindi absorbs on average 12% of their daily requirement of iodine, a marked improvement from before. All is comes at an affordable cost.
The solution called for no change in people’s behaviour. Yet, their nutrition standards improve by letting them do what they do anyway. In this case, wear on their foreheads what they would wear anyway. This is an excellent example of using existing cultural behaviour and adapting just one of its components for change.
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