Obese Instagram users contribute to the increased amount of interactivity regarding posts about healthy food


Instagram users with a high body mass index (BMI) have been shown to be attracted to healthier food images when interacting online. The reasoning behind this correlation is that those unhappy with their overweight figure want to identify and express their interest in a healthy lifestyle.

Obesity has been an increasing health concern in the U.S, with its most rapid growth in recent years. Someone with the awareness of his or her extreme weight condition will be more likely to post, like, or share images of food to interact with the population of society that has a relative normal weight.

  • Obese individuals immerse themselves more, when compared to individuals with a normal weight, in healthy lifestyle posts online
Studies have shown that obese users are more likely to immerse themselves in healthy posts online than are normal or overweight online users. About 13% of people who have gone out to eat in the past month post a picture of their food on a form of social media, and those people are paying more attention to looking at images of food than the food they are actually consuming.

The study also compared response rates of given food posts on Instagram with little to no likes or comments, to one with a high volume of activity, including liking, sharing, and commenting on that picture. The post with less likes, comments, and shares appealed more to obese individuals because the idea that they would be the first one to interact with the photo to make their actions more noticeable to the targeted audience.

On the other hand, correlations have been found where overexposure of food cues online can lead to a decreased feeling of hunger, and may also lead to healthier eating habits. This would contribute a postive impact of social media on reducing weight, which is very rare with the growing popularity of social media.

  • Females have a greater interest in healthy food posts that have already received large amounts of attention
Gender was an important relationship to account for in this study because females showed to have more interest and engagement with healthy food images on Instagram than males. This can be linked to the larger population of obese females than males in the U.S. Obese users are more likely to share or like the post and follow the account, whether it be an individual or restaurant, that posted the image to begin with, also contributing to looking at more images within that account.
  • Obese social media users tend to avoid personal interactions with fitness trainers and resort to a healthy, online lifestyle
Results of low and high Instagram post activity
between varying weights of participants
Connections have been found between obese individuals and their lack of willingness to involve themselves in programs that target weight loss. This could be a result of shyness and embarrassment of physically receiving personal interaction between a trainer and the person trying to lose the weight. These obese individuals who would rather engage with a healthier lifestyle on social media are encouraged to continue doing so.

The variations in body weight of social media users influences how they interact online and what kind of preferences they have, in terms of the healthiness of posts about food.

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