Top Food Tweets: Do People's Favorites Contain Healthy Items?

First Posted: Oct 19, 2016 03:50 AM EDT

In the midst of people having a high engagement in social media, a study revealed the top food tweets in the continental U.S. Bad news: Most types of food that made it to the Top 10 do not qualify as healthy items.

NDTV reported that among the top food tweets, only chicken can qualify as healthy. Apart from giving clues on which foods are popular, Twitter posts also indicate important things about people’s health. Apparently, those who expressed thoughts about healthy items were more likely to be healthier in general.

According to The Times of India, University of Utah scientists surveyed around 80 million Twitter messages from mid-2014 to mid-2015. They found that “coffee” ranked first in the top food tweets. “Beer” and “pizza” followed, while “chicken” ranked seventh. Here are the food items that made it to the list according to the order of precedence: Coffee, Beer, Pizza, Starbucks, IPA (beer), Wine, Chicken, BBQ, Ice Cream, and Taco/Tacos.

The scientists likewise went through the four million food tweets that fell on the health spectrum’s opposite ends. They sorted tweets that mentioned lean meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fast food restaurants. Starbucks was the only fast food brand featured.

Meanwhile, more important insights came when researchers cross-referenced two types of tweets about food focusing on the neighborhoods they came from. They found that food tweets from poor neighborhoods and areas with huge household were less likely to feature healthy items. Also, people living in places with dense fast food restaurants often tweeted about fast food.

From the data gathered, the study suggested that the neighborhood or environment has a great impact on the health and well-being. According to Ouynh Nguyen of the University of Utah, the data indicate that certain neighborhoods have fewer resources supporting healthy items and healthy diets. Nguyen is an assistant professor in the College of Health.

JMIR Public Health and Surveillance published the study. In the time being, researchers have also used Twitter to gauge the smoking prevalence and search for the source of outbreaks.

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