How Social Media Shapes Your Diet and Causes Food Fears

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Are your Facebook friends shaping the way you eat? A study from Cornell University suggests that social media has a significant impact on “food fears,” whether or not those fears are founded in truth.

Food psychologist Brian Wansink and his colleagues at Cornell canvassed 1,080 mothers about their beliefs on high fructose corn syrup. Participants with the greatest level of “food fear” were found to have more comprehensive educations but also relied predominantly on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms to gather their nutrition information.

Much of the misinformation come from people who seek like-minded company on Facebook and similar arenas. As Wansink told Today, “One thing to keep in mind is part of the reason [they share their beliefs] is that they want people to think they are just as sensitive and politically savvy or whatever. … They are in search of validation.”

That people are posting in search of support for their claims, rather than focusing on the facts themselves, presents a challenge in attempting to combat misinformation.