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Finding inspiration in the kitchen has never been easy. Scrolling through social media is guaranteed to reveal some delicious-looking, perfectly lit meals, and recipes. In addition, some of the most popular food posts are people promoting some sumptuous-looking healthy options. The question therefore arises, do the people who post and engage with these healthy food options make it themselves? According to researchers from George Mason University, this is rarely the case.

The role of Pinterest in recipe sharing

The researchers focused on Pinterest, a social media platform that is rarely discussed but hosts a massive ‘foodie community.’

They analyzed hundreds of Pinterest user and Pinterest influencer accounts during the study. One of their discoveries was that although many users posted and engaged with posts featuring healthy food with vegetables, chicken, and fish, the same users interacted with unhealthy dishes rich in sugar offline. The researchers said this suggests that the users are more likely to eat unhealthy food.

Hong Xue, study leader, and professor say an exciting discrepancy between what Pinterest users posted and how users consumed the posts. For example, pinners were more likely to post foods that would attract many likes and repins. Therefore, they are likely to conform to a standard set by elite influencers and celebrities promoting healthy, low-calorie meals. However, when it comes to recipes, users are more interested in making high-calorie, high in fat foods. As a result, users like and interact with posts of finished healthy dishes and less healthy recipes.

These findings reveal a tremendous difference between popularity on social media and application in everyday life. Researchers add that this means there are many complications for people trying to promote healthier habits on social media.

The team reveals that recipe popularity (liking and reposting) increases with healthiness among the study’s more in-depth findings. However, signs of actual life use (comments and sharing pictures of finished dishes) are higher in fatty recipes.

How Pinterest can help Americans get healthy

Amazingly, 18% of Americans are active on Pinterest, and a huge chunk interacts with food content. So with that in mind, the platform can help guide millions into eating healthy.