tweets show Americans are eating healthier during pandemic | Health

Sidney Murphy

MONDAY, August 1, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Whether it’s facts or bragging, tweets suggest people are eating healthier during COVID shutdowns and restaurant closures, according to new research.

Tweets about healthy foods increased by 20% between May 2020 and January 2021, while those about fast food and alcohol fell 9% and 11%, respectively, according to the researchers.

“Our findings provide insight into the impact of public health interventions on food and alcohol consumption during the pandemic, and reinforce the idea that when it comes to influencing health behaviors, its built environment matters,” said lead author Mark Hernandez, a researcher at MIT. Lincoln Laboratory in Boston.

Switching from fast food to salad or an apple was just one of the dietary changes people claimed to have made in the first year of the pandemic.

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Although the closings and closings of restaurants have significantly changed the way people obtain food and alcohol, the analysis suggests that some Americans have deliberately adopted healthier eating habits.

The study – recently published in the journal Grounds – also found links between behavior and proximity to grocery stores or liquor stores.

People who lived in areas with more liquor stores per capita were more likely to tweet about alcohol, the study found. Conversely, people who lived in areas with more grocery stores per capita and who could spend more time at home tweeted more about healthy food and less on fast food and alcohol than before the pandemic.

The authors said their analysis fills gaps in previous research, which relied primarily on conventional survey data.

“Twitter offers a window into people’s everyday attitudes and behaviors that surveys can struggle to capture,” said co-author Nina Cesare, postdoctoral associate at the Boston University School of Public Health.

“In the context of food, food diaries and self-reported eating habits are notoriously prone to response bias. Unsolicited reports of food consumption on Twitter may more accurately reflect food preferences and eating habits, a- she said in a press release from BU.

Forty-eight states and Washington, DC, saw an increase in tweets about healthy foods. The exceptions were Massachusetts and Montana, where those tweets were down 9.3% and 3.4%, respectively.

The largest increases in healthy food tweets were recorded in Wyoming (up 62.1%), Vermont (up 57.4%) and Washington State (up 46.5%). Fast food tweets fell 68% in Wyoming and 69.4% in Rhode Island.

The states with the biggest drop in alcohol-related tweets were Alaska (down 39.7%), Hawaii (down 38.7%) and Vermont (down 37.6%). ). Six states saw an increase in alcohol-related tweets, with South Dakota recording the biggest jump (30.6%).

During the pandemic, “salad, “apples,” “chicken,” “corn,” “eggs,” and “peanut butter” were among frequently tweeted healthy food terms. The most frequently used terms for fast food and alcoholic beverages were “McDonalds”, “tequila”, “Taco Bell”, “Starbucks”, “Chick-Fil-A”, “KFC”, “Chipotle”, “beer “, “wine”, “vodka” and “mimosas”.

The researchers said the new findings show the need for policies to increase access to healthy food options, especially in areas where there are few grocery stores.

“Policies could help incentivize new grocers to open and stock fresh, affordable foods, or focus on investing in local food economies and bolstering food access programs,” Hernandez said. in the press release. “They could also promote conditions where essential workers have more time and resources to access and prepare healthy food.”

Another study, published online in February, looked at pandemic-era diet and consumption patterns in various countries.

The US National Library of Medicine has published a guide to healthy snacking.

SOURCE: Boston University School of Public Health, press release, July 26, 2022

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