This phenomenon could be attributed to the posts people put up about their eating habits or the general state of health they portray through their social media profiles
We want you to do something. Just unlock your cell phone, go to the screen time widget, and check the break-up. See where you spend most of your time while toying with your smartphone. Yes, it's being active on social media.
We agree that it has its own perks and it keeps you connected with your buddies but here's something you should know before it's too late.
A recent study published in journal Appetite suggests that people tend to consume more of either healthy or junk foods after being influenced by their peers. This phenomenon could be attributed to the posts people put up about their eating habits or the general state of health they portray through their social media profiles.
You eat because your friends ate it too
The participants ate an extra fifth of a portion of fruit and vegetables themselves for every portion they thought their social media peers ate. So, if they believed their friends got their "five a day" of fruit and vegetables, they were likely to eat an extra portion themselves.
On the other hand, Facebook users were found to consume an extra portion of unhealthy snack foods and sugary drinks for every three portions they believed their online social circles did.
The findings suggested that people eat around a third more junk food if they think their friends also indulge in the same.
Befriend people on social media who eat healthy as it will motivate you too
The Aston University researchers said the findings provide the first evidence to suggest our online social circles could be implicitly influencing our eating habits, with important implications for using 'nudge' techniques on social media to encourage healthy eating.
Binge eating due to peer pressure
The most recent figures from the NHS's Health Survey for England showed that in 2018 only 28% of adults were eating the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day. In Wales, this was 24%, in Scotland 22%, and in Northern Ireland around 20%. Children and young people across the UK had even lower levels of fruit and veg consumption.
Aston University health psychology PhD student Lily Hawkins, who led the study alongside supervisor Dr Jason Thomas, said: "This study suggests we may be influenced by our social peers more than we realize when choosing certain foods. We seem to be subconsciously accounting for how others behave when making our own food choices. So if we believe our friends are eating plenty of fruit and veg we're more likely to eat fruit and veg ourselves. On the other hand, if we feel they're happy to consume lots of snacks and sugary drinks, it can give us a license to overeat foods that are bad for our health. The implication is that we can use social media as a tool to 'nudge' each other's eating behavior within friendship groups, and potentially use this knowledge as a tool for public health interventions."
Spending more time on social media can lead to obesity
A dietitian called Aisling Pigott mentioned that "Research such as this demonstrates how we are influenced by online perceptions about how others eat. The promotion of positive health messages across social media, which are focused on promoting healthy choices and non-restrictive relationships with food and body, could nudge people into making positive decisions around the food they eat."
So, next time before you get all hooked to social media, just remember whom to get influenced from as you'll be the person you will follow.