Study: Celebrities Love Posting About Unhealthy Food

Jan. 14, 2022
The foods and beverages that celebrities post about on social media tend to be overwhelmingly unhealthy, according to a new study.

The foods and beverages that celebrities post about on social media tend to be overwhelmingly unhealthy, according to a new study.

The study, by researchers from Stanford University and the University of Chicago, looked at more than 3,000 eat- or drink-related social media posts from 181 “highly followed celebrities.” It found that, of the more than 5,000 foods and beverages referenced in the posts, more than 87% of them were either for alcohol or for foods and beverages so unhealthy that it would be against the law in the UK and other countries to advertise them directly to children.

This is almost entirely a matter of personal preference among the celebrities involved; less than 5% were a result of paid sponsorships.

Just over half of the posts featured only beverages, and of those, more than half featured alcohol. Researchers analyzed the foods in the posts for nutritional value and found that, not only were most of them unhealthy, but the ones that were healthy garnered fewer likes or comments.

"So to the extent that celebrities want to promote follower engagement, less healthy foods generated greater follower engagement, posing an additional incentive for celebrities to post less healthy foods," one of the researchers told HealthDay News.

It’s unclear what, if anything, can be done about this situation. Since the great majority of such posts are unsponsored, banning food sponsorships from a social media platform wouldn’t help. One expert consulted by HealthDay News suggested algorithms that would favor posts about healthy foods; another suggested that consumers simply not get nutritional advice from celebrities.

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