(Borzoo Moazami, Unsplash)
In in the present day’s world, our diets are sometimes filled with fat and sugars. Our historic intuition to crave calorie-rich meals, which as soon as helped us survive, now results in dangerous well being side-effects.
To counteract this, meals content material creators on social media have been attempting to push wholesome consuming and wholesome consuming content material.
But right here’s the kicker — this content material doesn’t get a lot engagement. Instead, posts that present unhealthy, high-calorie meals get extra likes, shares and feedback. This recognition of junk meals on-line could tempt content material creators and algorithms to point out extra of the identical, tilting our view of “regular” consuming habits in the direction of unhealthy decisions. In the long term, this might gas the weight problems epidemic.
So, the problem is evident: How will we make wholesome meals as click-worthy as their unhealthy counterparts?
In a latest paper printed within the European Journal of Marketing, we needed to see if we may change folks’s pure tendency to keep away from wholesome meals content material. How? By tweaking the best way they assume. Could getting folks to assume extra rigorously earlier than they see meals posts make them have interaction extra with wholesome meals on social media?
Food advertising on social media
Social media has develop into a billboard for meals promoting. Food corporations are in every single place on-line, however their focus is normally on calorie-packed merchandise. They make these meals appear enjoyable and shareable, though many people can be higher off seeing extra more healthy choices.
This mismatch between what meals corporations promote and what’s good for customers is obvious. Posts with unhealthy meals get extra love and are remembered, seen and shared greater than posts that includes more healthy meals.
This on-line recognition of junk meals can then form our concepts of what’s “regular” to eat and might sway our consuming habits, particularly in teams which are simply influenced by friends. So, if we will determine why this occurs, we may use that information to make wholesome meals shine on social media.
(Alex Haney, Unsplash)
Why we love junk: An evolutionary story
Our brains have been wired over millennia to not solely crave high-calorie meals, however really feel good when merely seeing such meals — it’s a survival trick from our previous.
Today, this implies we naturally really feel good and get excited when seeing calorie-packed meals. This similar pleasure merely doesn’t happen when uncovered to low-calorie options, which we frequently see as much less tasty, not as pleasurable and sure not satiating.
What if we may swap our minds to keep away from the biased selections we make once we depend on our emotions? The concept of utilizing a extra considerate mindset is a technique that’s been proven to work on different meals habits.
The potential right here is big: considering extra thoughtfully and analytically may scale back our biases for relying extra on our emotions to make selections, and this could make more healthy, lower-calorie meals extra enticing, resulting in extra likes and shares on social media.
In our analysis, we took a have a look at how folks react to social media content material about meals. We discovered that individuals are normally much less all in favour of posts about more healthy, lower-calorie meals, one thing that’s been proven in earlier research.
We used movies from Tasty, a well-liked meals community, for our experiment.
In our experiment, folks have been extra prone to have interaction with a video about making a burger than a salad. But when folks take the time to consider what meals they’re really participating with, they will respect the advantages of lower-calorie meals, probably main them to decide on more healthy choices.
Actions for a more healthy social media
As prior analysis has demonstrated, individuals are naturally drawn to social media posts of unhealthy meals, leaving more healthy choices within the mud. The extra engagement these calorie-packed posts get, the extra comparable content material floods our feeds, making a cycle that may probably negatively have an effect on our real-life consuming habits.
But there’s hope! As our ongoing work demonstrates, there are many methods to steer the mindset in the direction of more healthy decisions. Think disclaimers, well being star rankings and even colour-coded nudges.
Short mindfulness workout routines from applications like Noom or WeightWatchers may assist us pause and assume earlier than we eat.
Our analysis can encourage dietitians, well being advocates, policymakers and content material creators to make use of this mindset magic once they’re designing their merchandise, providers or social media posts. This may result in extra engagement with more healthy meals content material on social media, making these more healthy messages journey additional.
Ethan Pancer receives funding from SSHRC and the David Sobey Centre for Innovation in Retailing and Services.
Matthew Philp receives funding from SSHRC.
Theo Noseworthy receives funding from SSHRC.
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