NEW YORK, Jan 22 ― When celebrities show off meals or snacks on social network Instagram, it tends to be foods or drinks deemed unhealthy, reports a US study.

When it comes to food, celebrities are likely to highlight junk food on their social network accounts, says an American study published in the Jama network. The researchers behind this study set out to gauge the nutritional quality of the food and beverages that make appearances in celebrities' posts.

“Little is known about the foods and beverages posted on social media by popular actors and actresses, athletes, and music artists,” explain the study authors. “Research describing foods and beverages on social media has focused primarily on brands' accounts.”

For this research, Professor Bradley Turnwald and his colleagues focused on Instagram, which allows photos and videos to be posted. “We focused on this platform because it is image-driven, with more than 500 million daily active users, including 72 per cent of teens in the US, and a large celebrity presence,” the researchers outlined.


To conduct their work, the researchers analysed the accounts of 181 celebrities. The profiles ranged from athletes to actors to “television personalities” and musicians. The specialists collected the data between May 2019 and March 2020. A total of 5180 products were evaluated. Brand-sponsored posts were differentiated from other posts.

To measure nutritional quality, the researchers relied on a Nutrient Profile Index. This NPI generates a score from 0 to 100 (a score of 0 indicates the least healthy and 100 the healthiest). It is determined based on sugar, sodium, energy, saturated fat, fiber, protein, and fruit and/or vegetable content. Foods with a score below 64 and beverages with a score below 70 are considered “less healthy.”

Sweets and alcohol make frequent appearances


So what did they find? Snacks, sweets and alcoholic beverages were the most common types of foods to make appearances in the social media posts of highly followed celebrities, the researchers found. More than 87 per cent of these accounts featured posts with “less healthy” food or drink. 

Moreover, 95 per cent of these posts weren't sponsored by brands. “These results suggest that influential depictions of unhealthy food and beverage consumption on social media may be a sociocultural problem that extends beyond advertisements and sponsorships, reinforcing unhealthy consumption norms,” concluded the study. The researchers hope that celebrities will help promote a healthier lifestyle in the future. ― ETX Studio