Popular food posts on social media can inspire people to eat healthy

BIRMINGHAM, United Kingdom – If you can’t help but browse Instagram looking at delicious food and delicious recipes, do yourself a favor and find articles featuring mouth-watering dishes. and healthy dishes. Researchers at Aston University find that viewing social media posts with many “likes” showing healthy foods promotes nutritious food choices in the real world. Who Said Social Media Has To Be All Bad?

Study experience reveals that people who see bogus but very popular Instagram posts containing fruits and vegetables end up eating significantly more grapes than cookies (14% more calories) compared to other participants. seeing bogus posts containing more fatty foods.

Fit in with the crowd of healthy eating people

A total of 169 people participated in this project. While the average age of the participants was 21, the ages ranged from 18 to 50. Some subjects did not see any food photos at all, but instead looked at stylish interiors. Not all food and beverage positions had high “likes” either. In all scenarios, however, the volunteers who saw articles on healthy foods with a lot of tastes ended up making the best dietary decisions when given the choice between raisins or cookies.

“The study results suggest that not only exposure to images of healthy food on social media, but also those that are also strongly endorsed by ‘likes’, may cause people to choose to. eating more healthy foods, instead of less nutritious foods. What we see others approving of eating and posting about eating on social media can affect our actual eating behavior and could lead to more meal consumption and healthier snacks, ”said Lily Hawkins, study co-director and Aston psychology doctoral candidate Lily Hawkins in an academic statement.

“One of the reasons for this may be that thinking that others ‘like’ and eat fruits and vegetables causes participants to change their behavior in order to accommodate what they perceive to be the norm,” Hawkins continues. .

The researchers carried out this work in the UK where, just like in the US, the majority of UK residents do not eat the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables each day. For example, estimates show that only 28% of English adults ate the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis in 2018.

Social networks: a billboard for healthy eating?

In summary, the study authors believe their findings suggest that social media can become a tool for good nutrition. If people follow popular accounts with tasty and appealing healthy food options, they’re more likely to make better choices for themselves at the supermarket. In a next step, the research team plans to conduct a similar study, but this time with real Instagram accounts.

“We know that social interactions can strongly shape what, when and how much we eat. These findings highlight the important role of social media in shaping these online influences, ”comments Professor Claire Farrow, director of the Applied Health Research Group at Aston University. “The results suggest that people don’t just passively see information about what other people eat online, but that this digital information can shape our food preferences and choices, especially when we think a lot of other people like certain people.” food. It is promising that exposure to healthy foods, and tastes of those foods, is linked to greater consumption of healthy foods. “

“More research is needed to determine if and how these findings can be translated into digital interventions to help people who want to make healthier food choices and to understand how social media platforms can be used as a tool to support behavior. healthy food, ”he concludes.

The study appears in the journal Appetite.

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