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In as we speak’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 making an attempt to push wholesome consuming and wholesome consuming content material.

However here is the kicker—this content material would not get a lot engagement. As a substitute, 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 indicate extra of the identical, tilting our view of “regular” consuming habits in the direction of unhealthy selections. In the long term, this might gasoline the weight problems epidemic.

So, the problem is obvious: How can we make wholesome meals as click-worthy as their unhealthy counterparts?

In a latest paper printed within the European Journal of Advertising, we wished to see if we might change folks’s pure tendency to keep away from wholesome meals content material. How? By tweaking the way in which they suppose. Might getting folks to suppose extra fastidiously earlier than they see meals posts make them have interaction extra with wholesome meals on social media?

Meals advertising and marketing on social media

Social media has turn into a billboard for meals promoting. Meals 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 evident. 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 is “regular” to eat and may sway our consuming habits, particularly in teams which are simply influenced by friends. So, if we will determine why this occurs, we might use that information to make wholesome meals shine on social media.

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 is a survival trick from our previous.

At this time, 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 gratifying and certain not satiating.

What if we might swap our minds to keep away from the biased choices we make once we depend on our emotions? The thought of utilizing a extra considerate mindset is a method that is been proven to work on different meals habits.

The potential right here is big: pondering extra thoughtfully and analytically might scale back our biases for relying extra on our emotions to make choices, and this will make more healthy, lower-calorie meals extra enticing, resulting in extra likes and shares on social media.

In our analysis, we took a take a look at how folks react to social media content material about meals. We discovered that individuals are normally much less all for posts about more healthy, lower-calorie meals, one thing that is 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. However when folks take the time to consider what meals they’re really participating with, they’ll recognize 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.

However there’s hope! As our ongoing work demonstrates, there are many methods to steer the mindset in the direction of more healthy selections. Suppose disclaimers, well being star scores and even color-coded nudges.

Quick mindfulness workout routines from packages like Noom or WeightWatchers can even assist us pause and suppose earlier than we eat.

Our analysis can encourage dietitians, well being advocates, policymakers and content material creators to make use of this mindset magic after they’re designing their merchandise, companies or social media posts. This might result in extra engagement with more healthy meals content material on social media, making these more healthy messages journey additional.

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Meals for thought: How your mindset could make wholesome meals extra alluring on social media (2023, Might 25)
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