Learning, sharing and teaching about nutrition with social media

Published by communicatinghealth on

Presented at the 10th Asia Pacific Conference on Clinical Nutrition

Presented at the 10th Asia Pacific Conference on Clinical Nutrition

Incorporating the Joint Annual Scientific Meeting of the NSA and the NSNZ

‘Nutrition Solutions for a Changing World’


Author: M Adamski
Co-authors: K Klassen, L Brennan, M Lim, C Lombard, T McCaffrey, M Reid, H Truby


Globally, social media use has reached 2.8 billion users; however, there has been little scientific exploration into how people are using it to communicate about nutrition. The aim of this study was to explore how people use social media to learn and communicate about nutrition. An exploratory, inductive, qualitative approach was employed using comments from a 3-week online course "Food as Medicine". Learners (people enrolled) posted comments on a forum in response to course content. Forum posts that mentioned "social media" or related terms were analysed for themes. 26,120 active learners participated in "Food as Medicine" in May 2016. 9093 learners commented between 1 and 1312 times (median 13) in the forums. Two major themes that emerged were: 1) Teaching: where learners advocated for their beliefs and reference to external social media was used to support this advocacy, often citing perceived experts or trusted experts/sources of information. Statements were often preceded by "I think" or "I believe", but could also be presented factually; "The advice to reduce saturated fat consumption directly lead [sic] to the advice to increase carbohydrates." 2) Sharing: where learners shared health information they found "worth watching" or "interesting" on social media. These analyses suggest that learners in an online nutrition course are using social media to learn (seeking information on social media), teach (advocating about what they have learned and/or reinforcing their beliefs) and share (with other learners and with their friends/followers on other platforms) about nutrition


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