In this research project I wish to explore the extent to which students follow nutritional advice presented in social media outlets. As social media has an increasing impact on the way in which we choose our lifestyles, I wanted to research into how university students process the nutritional information they see on social media and find out which advice they follow and why.
In order to carry out this project I will interview university students to acquire qualitative and quantitative information. By conducting face to face interviews with open ended questions, as well as, conducting surveys with multiple choice answers in order to find quantitative research.
I have carried out preliminary reading in order to gain some understanding on the topic. Similar research has been carried out by ER Carrotte in the Journal of Medical Internet Research called Predictors of “Liking” Three Types of Health and Fitness-Related Content on Social Media: A Cross-Sectional Study. This study looked into how many young adults between the ages of 15-29 followed diet and fitness related social media. It found that 37% of young adults followed these forms of social media and of this group 85% were female. The study concluded that social media has an effect on young adults and that there is a need to ensure that the health messages being spread through social media need to be responsible and accurate.
A similar article by Mitchell Vaterlaus called #Gettinghealthy: The perceived influence of social media on young adult health behaviors, discusses the way in which social media influences health behaviours, as well as, the positive and negative effects of social media on how young adults make positive food choices. It indicated that young adults believe that health and fitness advice can be inspirational or it can be misused depending on context. This article has a similar basis to the first and provides an understanding surrounding the research I am proposing to conduct.
In my research I will ask the opinions of university students on the types of health related information they have come across on social media including Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. I will also gather information on the opinion university students have on this type of information on social media and its reliability.
A specific article by Emma Jayne Abbots called It’s not what you eat but how and that you eat: Social media, counter-discourses and disciplined ingestion among amateur competitive eaters details the how social media is used by amateur competitive eaters in order to challenge and subvert mass media representation. This article delves into a more specific way in which social media is used and how it impacts others. Finally a qualitative research project carried out by V Bissonnette-Maheux called Exploring women’s beliefs and perceptions about healthy eating blogs: a qualitative study looked into the way in which women used social media and highlighted the benefits and the negative impacts of using a healthy eating blog. This research indicated that women valued the use of this form of blog, but also found there were negative aspects to it.
Through preliminary reading I have gained some understanding that will allow me to create a point of focus on my research project. I will conduct both face to face interviews asking opinions on examples of nutritional advice on social media as well as general opinions. Furthermore, I will be conducting online surveys that will further improve the accuracy of my results as they will provide qualitative research. Through this research project I wish to establish the way in which social media effects university students’ perceptions and choices in regards to diet and lifestyles.
Abbots, E, & Attala, L 2014, ‘It’s not what you eat but how and that you eat: Social media, counter-discourses and disciplined ingestion among amateur competitive eaters’, Geoforum, ScienceDirect, EBSCOhost, viewed 20 March 2016.
Bissonnette-Maheux, V, Provencher, V, Lapointe, A, Dugrenier, M, Dumas, A, Pluye, P, Straus, S, Gagnon, M, & Desroches, S 2015, ‘Exploring women’s beliefs and perceptions about healthy eating blogs: a qualitative study’, Journal Of Medical Internet Research, 17, 4, p. e87, MEDLINE with Full Text, EBSCOhost, viewed 20 March 2016.
Carrotte, E, Vella, A, & Lim, M 2015, ‘Predictors of “Liking” Three Types of Health and Fitness-Related Content on Social Media: A Cross-Sectional Study’, Journal Of Medical Internet Research, 17, 8, p. e205, MEDLINE with Full Text, EBSCOhost, viewed 20 March 2016.
Vaterlaus, J, Patten, E, Roche, C, & Young, J 2015, ‘#Gettinghealthy: The perceived influence of social media on young adult health behaviors’, Computers In Human Behavior, 45, pp. 151-157, Computers & Applied Sciences Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 20 March 2016.