Social media could have a major impact on our eating habits

If you've been using social media lately, you may have noticed various posts about food. These range from artistic photos of meals in restaurants to daily updates of your friends' keto or paleo diet to their guilty confessions that you eat fast food late at night.

Social media while eating

young woman uses her cellphone while having breakfast

Whatever people say about food in your online circles, there's a good chance you know a lot about their eating habits and preferences. This information provides information about the social norms of your acquaintances with regard to food. The authors of a new study claim that they can influence your own eating habits.

“This study suggests that when choosing certain foods, we are more influenced by peers than we are aware of. We seem to subconsciously take into account how others behave when we set our own eating habits. “That's what the study author Lily Hawkins, who is a PhD student at Aston University in Birmingham, said.

Students text or use social media while eating

The researchers also looked at how different types of social norms affect the consumption of certain foods. These social norms also exist in other situations, for example in the real world among students or employees. However, the researchers focused on social media, as these websites now make up a large part of our social interactions.

In the study, the researchers interviewed 369 students about their consumption of fruit, vegetables, high-energy snacks, and sugary drinks. They also researched their use of Facebook and other social networks, as well as their perceptions of the eating habits and preferences of their online friends. It turned out that social norms can also influence people's eating habits in the online world. This can happen in two ways.

Promote healthy eating

Social media influence young people's eating habits

The authors of the new study believe that their work could also be used to eat more fruits and vegetables, as well as less energetic snacks and sugary drinks.

“The consequence is that we can use social media as an instrument. This enables us to promote the eating behavior of others in friendship groups. We then potentially use this knowledge as a tool for public health interventions, ”said Hawkins.

Caution is especially needed with social media and messaging, because some research shows a link between social media among adolescents and disorderly behaviors like us showing thoughts about their weight. Skipping meals or binge eating are two other factors that are particularly worrying.

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