Are Your Food Choices Influenced By Social Media?

Kind of a funny question to be asking if you’re here reading this while possibly looking for nutrition information, right? Like most people, you’re probably bombarded with pictures and recipes and images of food nearly every day. We get them in emails, see them on sites, and they are a staple in social media posts. But are your friends posting pictures of healthy snacks and meals, tempting shots of heavenly desserts, massive burgers or your favorite adult beverage? Little may you know; the answer could affect your food choices.

Prior lab studies have suggested that peoples’ eating habits are influenced by social norm messages that convey the usual eating behavior of others. Think of how many review sites you can name if you’re looking for a restaurant, or the amount of food posts you saw the last time you were on Facebook. People like what other people like, and all this exposure can drive individual’s behavior, be it good or bad.

In a recent study, researchers at Aston University’s School of Life and Health Sciences in the UK suggested that you’re more likely to eat the way your social media friends do. College students were asked to note their perceptions of their social media contacts’ consumption of fruit, vegetables, sugar-sweetened beverages, and energy-dense snacks as well as their own consumption of these foods. Students also reported their BMIs. The results seemed to reflect the social influence theory:

  • College students ate more fruits and vegetables if they believed their social media peers did the same
  • They also ate significantly more junk food if they perceived that their social medial contacts approved of eating junk food

Now, you may say “Well those are just young college kids who are more easily influenced”. But think about it, how many times have you eaten a food or prepared a dish after seeing it on a social site or hearing about it from several of your friends online? I think we’d all have to raise our hands here, even if it is a little sheepishly.

This study that was published in January in the journal Appetite only hits home the notion that we can be influenced by others through what we see, and where and how we spend our time online. If you’re visiting our site and reading this, we hope that WE can be a positive influence on how you take care of your health through your diet. The food choices that you make every day will be some of the biggest factors in regard to which direction your health moves. 

While we all do like a decadent treat here and there, a solid foundation of healthy foods in your diet will go a long way in helping you preserve a great quality of life. Hopefully you’ll be scrolling down our site after reading this to learn more.