Social media can be used for anything from socializing and shopping to starting a business and getting health and nutrition advice. Most social media users get nutrition, eating, and body image messages from the accounts they follow.
A Critical Eye On Social Media Influencers
What’s social media? Shared experiences, ideas, information, emotions, and feelings. It’s also where businesses, organizations, and brands present their brand and values to persuade people to buy a product or service.
While the above principles are accurate, social media reality is more complicated. People who share their experiences, ideas, information, thoughts, and emotions may want a following. However, many on social media want to be influencers as well. Influencers influence their followers’ views and behaviors for profit, rewards, or ideas. Their content, style, or both may have made them an influencer.
What & Who Influences Influencers?
People who are influencers have opinions about and experiences with food and eating habits. There are endless criteria that impact their opinions and experiences, including:
- Personal experiences. Your and others’ experiences may vary from influencers’ and the mainstream (“average”) experience.
- Formal education. If people base their beliefs on formal education, their training and education may impact them the most. While systematized, formal education might share opposing information.
- Informal education. Informal education from friends, coworkers, and books shapes their views.
- Profession. A person’s job is their profession. It’s not always related to schooling. However, paying for anything confirms their thoughts, expertise, and experiences.
- Access to information. While the internet has made excellent information more accessible, variables like native language, search skills, social media algorithms, and internet connection affect what users can access.
- Their circle of influence. Trusted friends and relatives may influence their thoughts more than authoritative sources.
- Income or perk incentives. Do they sell? Did they get compensated for giving this information?
4 Ways Social Media Impacts Our Eating Habits
In behavioral psychology, “social norm messages” persuade people to behave as closely as possible. People will strive to acquire eating habits that match societal norms. Before social media, individuals noticed eating habits and their messages. Culture, environment, economy, and access shaped societal norms. These societal standards shaped their eating habits. Social media has expanded our social networks, but real-life social factors still impact our eating patterns.
The Meals Our Social Network Shares Impact Our Eating Habits
The University of Birmingham studied how Facebook affects our eating habits.
The research evaluated whether Facebook users’ eating habits and food choices were predicted by perceived standards. It studied if food-related material in people’s social networks affected their eating patterns and preferences for:
- Energy-dense snacks
- Sugar-sweetened beverages
Fruit and vegetable intake was positively correlated with perceived eating behavior standards. Users’ consumption was also influenced by perceived norms concerning energy-dense foods and sugary drinks.
This may be excellent news if social media contains healthy eating tips. It may also indicate that a network that often promotes fad diet information provides erroneous information or excludes nutrient-dense foods like fruits and vegetables may negatively affect eating patterns.
Edited Selfies & Idealization Of Thin Bodies Can Lead To Disordered Eating
People’s eating habits are influenced by more than just food photos and dietitians’ diets. In Western society, slim, lean, big-chested, and big-bottomed female bodies and lean, muscular male bodies are desirable and linked with health and beauty.
However, a new study shows that body form and size have little to no effect on health, and beauty has always been relative. Few people also