Can social media be used to increase fruit and vegetable consumption?:A pilot intervention study


BACKGROUND: Exposure to social norms about fruit and vegetable intake has been shown to increase individuals' consumption of these foods. Further, exposure to socially endorsed 'healthy' food posts can increase consumption of low energy-dense (LED), relative to high energy-dense (HED) foods. The current pilot study aimed to investigate whether exposure to healthy eating (vs. control) social media accounts can shift normative perceptions about what others eat, eating intentions and self-reported food consumption. METHODS: In a 2 (condition) × 2 (type of food consumed) mixed factorial design, 52 male and female students were asked to follow either healthy eating (intervention) or interior design (control) Instagram accounts over a two-week period. Baseline and post-intervention measures assessed normative perceptions of Instagram users' consumption of fruit and vegetables (LED foods), and energy dense snacks and sugar sweetened beverages (HED foods). Participants' intentions to consume, and self-reported consumption of these foods, were also measured. RESULTS: There were no significant changes in perceptions about what others eat, or participants' own eating intentions ( ps > 0.05). However, the intervention increased participants' self-reported consumption of LED foods by 1.37 servings (per day) and decreased consumption of HED foods by 0.81 items (per day), compared to the control condition ( ps < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: This novel pilot study demonstrates that a social norm-based social media intervention can successfully encourage healthier eating, with a large effect after two weeks. Certain social media platforms may therefore provide a viable tool for nudging healthy eating. Future work will aim to replicate these findings in a larger and more diverse sample.

Publication DOI:
Divisions: College of Health & Life Sciences > School of Psychology
College of Health & Life Sciences > Aston Institute of Health & Neurodevelopment (AIHN)
College of Health & Life Sciences
Funding Information: The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This work was supported by Aston University.
Additional Information: Copyright © The Author(s) 2024. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (https://creativecommons. org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page
Uncontrolled Keywords: fruit,Social media,food consumption,vegetables,healthy eating,social norms
Publication ISSN: 2055-2076
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2024 07:36
Date Deposited: 29 Apr 2024 15:26
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Related URLs: https://journal ... 552076241241262 (Publisher URL)
http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2024-12-01
Published Online Date: 2024-04-24
Accepted Date: 2024-03-05
Authors: Hawkins, Lily
Farrow, Claire (ORCID Profile 0000-0003-3745-6610)
Clayton, Meshach
Thomas, Jason M (ORCID Profile 0000-0001-7013-8994)



Version: Published Version

License: Creative Commons Attribution

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