“Yummy,” “Easy,” and “Family-friendly” are descriptions often seen in the comments on recipes found on social media, and many people save them for future reference. But do they ever cook them? Not so much, according to a recent study.
Pinterest is a social media platform that allows people to save images, or pins, and create a collection of images, or a board, from other users’ pins. It’s a popular place to share recipes, and according to a survey by the Pew Research Center, 31 percent of U.S. adults said they had used Pinterest and over 60 percent of that group said they had gotten a recipe from Pinterest.
What people post on social media and what they actually cook, however, seem to be two very different things, the George Mason University study found. Recipes that were liked and pinned by Pinterest users were collected and analyzed, then compared for ingredients and nutrients.
People pin healthy recipes seeking social approval, but when it comes to the recipes they make, it’s a very different story.
“It's an interesting discrepancy between what pinners posted/liked and how users actually consumed the information,” said researcher, Hong Xue, in a statement. “Pinners are more likely to post recipes that are socially rewarded with likes and re-pins. They are more likely to adhere to an elite social norm set by celebrities and influencers promoting healthier, low-calorie, clean eating. But when it comes to the recipes users are more interested in making food high in fat, sugar and high calories. We see a very different picture. They're commenting on and posting finished dish photos of the less healthy recipes.”
Pinterest and other social media platforms have great potential to influence healthy eating. Healthcare organizations, registered dietitian nutritionists and fitness experts have an opportunity to provide recipes that are also healthy on social media since people seem to connect with the taste of a recipe rather than its nutritional value.
The study is published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.