Wednesday 21 March 2018

Overweight health bloggers perceived as less reliable - study

Food bloggers wield a lot of influence through their physical appearance rather than the photos of the dishes they post
Food bloggers wield a lot of influence through their physical appearance rather than the photos of the dishes they post

Sasha Brady

When bloggers look overweight in their profile pictures, we’re far more skeptical of how healthy their recipes are than when the bloggers are slim - even if it’s the exact same food photo, finds a new study by researchers at Cornell University.

The study aimed to get a better understanding of "the factors that guide health-related judgements and perceptions" on social media food posts.

Participants were presented with photos of the same 10 meals and each photo was accompanied by a thumbnail image depicting the supposed author of the blog post. One group was shown a blogger before weight loss and one after.

The groups were then asked to judge how healthy they believed the meal was on a scale of one to seven.

Read more: #FoodPorn: What can we expect from Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook?

The majority voted the meals attached to the heavier photo as less healthy than the same meal presented with a photo of a slim blogger.

Even when the researchers presented the nutrition information, people were still strongly influenced by the body weight of the recommender.

Jonathan Schuldt, authour of the study said that  “weight bias and prejudice - which are so rampant in our society - can spill over and affect not only the inferences we make about people but also objects that are associated with them.”

Read more: The Irish people who found solace in baking: 'Cake makes people happy, it's a fact'

Users all over the world upload photos of their picture-perfect dishes to Instagram so often that that the social media platform can almost be mistaken for a virtual cookbook. Scanning through the photo app you'll find over 200 million mentions of #food and over 24 million mentions of #foodie at present.

The social media phenomenon is so powerful that it's important users are aware of what influences them and why.

The study, published in the Health Communications journal noted that this uncovering this bias could help us “avoid being swayed by nutritional information simply because it is posted by someone who is thin rather than heavy.”

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