Social Networking Can Help Promote Healthy Eating


Soaring obesity levels present a severe health risk in the United States, especially in low-income minority populations. Americans are exposed to an abundance of advertisements for unhealthy choices, such as fast foods and sugary drinks and cereals.

DID YOU KNOW , the estimated annual healthcare cost of obesity related illnesses are $190.2 billion or nearly 21% of annual medical spending in the Unites States .


The media — everything from television, radio, and film to games, advertising, and social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter — can have significant impacts on individual and population health. Exposure to media, especially among youth, may affect health behaviors such as substance use, sexual activity, and eating habits.

An study in Wheeling, West Virginia  shows , how a media-only approach could be sufficient  sufficient to encourage a significant proportion of the people in one community to alter the dietary habit targeted by the intervention.

In this study, the researchers used paid advertising and public relations to encourage members of one community to switch from whole  milk  to 1% or low fat milk. The study used a quasi-experimental research design with one intervention city and one comparison city. The effectiveness of the campaign was evaluated by collecting milk sales data from supermarkets and conducting pre- and post-intervention telephone surveys in intervention and comparison cities

The result showed , low-fat milk sales increased from 29% of overall milk sales before the campaign to 46% of sales in the month following the campaign. The increase was maintained at the 6-month follow up. According to the telephone surveys, 34.1% of high-fat-milk drinkers reported switching to low-fat milk in the intervention community compared with 3.6% in the comparison community.


6 thoughts on “Social Networking Can Help Promote Healthy Eating

  1. Melody, thanks for your great post! It is alarming that obesity continues to be such a prevalent problem in the US. Using social media to continue to battle obesity is good idea and can be very effective. Kids and teenagers are already spending a lot of time browsing the web, watching TV and etc., so maybe by decreasing the number of pizza and fast food commercials, and increasing healthy eating awareness, we can reduce the number of obese children in the US.

    • Thanks for your comment ,
      You are absolutely right , food and beverage advertising is frequently aired during children’s television programming and much of the foods being advertised are of poor quality. Replacing fast food ads with healthy eating awareness would definitely have a positive effect on obesity.

  2. Hi,

    I am wondering what target audience this is far. It seems like this would be perfect for a younger demographic. Age 15 and below maybe? What did you have mind? For adults, I am not sure if it would be engaging enough…but the concept is one of critical importance.

    • Thanks for your comment,
      We can target all ages but considering the time our teenagers spend on media , I believe they will be our biggest target population . American youth devote more time to media than to any other waking activity, with the average child spending a third of each day exposed to media.

  3. Hi Melody,

    I wanted to say great tags- your post has had WAY more views than anybody else’s at this point. I know that it was a very small paragraph in the Social Media for Social Good reading, but as you have shown, tags are an incredibly easy way to draw hits to the blog post. My guess is the “facebook” and “twitter” tags were the big drivers 🙂

  4. Great use of images, multi media and tags. I like your approach in terms of targeting youth through social media to address obesity and unhealthy behaviors since that is also the modality used to get them to partake in unhealthy behaviors in the first place.

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