#ThatPizzaWasOrgasmic! Tweeting About Food? This is What Scientists Know About You
By Nicole Buckler
I tweet about #wine. A lot. Every Friday night. Example:
So what’s the most tweeted item we put into our mouths? #Coffee. Well, that’s in the U.S. anyway, but it’s probably the same in Europe. We Europeans slobber all over coffee as much as Americans do. We are all despresso before espresso.
After coffee, next most tweeted calorie-glory is #beer. WELL OF COURSE IT IS. Because… beer. After #beer, what is the next most tweeted thing we shove into our pie-holes? #Pizza. Because there is no better thing on earth than #pizza. I recently met someone who didn’t like #pizza. I was suspicious of them and they have never gained my trust. If a crime takes place in my neighbourhood I will call the gards on them, because their guilt is obvious.
But here’s what social scientists have worked out about our tweeting habits. The more junkfood and booze we tweet about, the more likely it is that we live in a fat neighbourhood. Those suspicious people who tweet about mung beans and matcha tea and do yoga moves that include resting on their skull caps come from healthier neighbourhoods. Yeah shut up skinnies, we have #pizza and we are going out in a blaze of diabetic glory.
So why is this important? Because all life is really, is a whim of several billion cells to be you for a while. This type of study helps you to decide what kind of you you want to be.
So let’s look at the science. Boffins at the University of Utah surveyed nearly 80 million Twitter messages. These were taken from a random sample of publicly available, geotagged tweets. The 4 million tweets about food were categorised according to what types of food were being mentioned.
Out of that top 10 list, only the fourth most popular food-related item (#Starbucks) fit into the fast food category. The seventh (#chicken) was the only one considered as healthy food.
But the real insights came after cross-referencing the two types of food tweets with information about the neighbourhoods they came from, including census data and health surveys. They found, for instance, that tweets from poor neighbourhoods, and regions with large households, were less likely to mention healthy foods. Also, people in areas dense with fast food restaurants tweeted more often about fast food.
“Our data could be telling us that certain neighbourhoods have fewer resources to support healthy diets,” says Quynh Nguyen, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the University of Utah College of Health. She explains that perhaps neighbourhoods laden with fast food restaurants could benefit from having more supermarkets or farm stands that sell fresh produce.
Areas with more chatter about walking, dancing, running and other physical activities had fewer deaths and lower rates of obesity. Positive sentiments towards healthy foods were also broadly related to fewer deaths and lower rates of chronic health conditions.
What this means is that if you are thinking of moving to a new part of town, and you want to give up your horribly decadent ways, you should see what people are tweeting about in relation to your new hood. If people are tweeting about annoying things like #jogging, #celery and #yoga, move there. But bring an electric cattle prod with you to keep these weird hippies at bay, because they are annoying and will try to get you to do things like wear a leotard.
If the people in your prospective hood are tweeting about #CaramelFrappé and #DutchGold you might want to fire your real estate agent. But be sure to go to this hood for a decent party.
That said, there are problems with this study. People might be more likely to tweet about putting their face into a chocolate cake than a stack of julienned carrots. Also, there are problems with these kind of studies due to the way words have dual meanings. For example, the study initially labelled tweets about NBA basketball player Stephen Curry as food tweets. After noting the error, the researchers excluded those tweets and only counted messages with an additional description such as “chicken curry” or “Masala curry.” So the study is not perfect. But #curry is. Always.
So here’s an idea… if you are selling your house, tweets LOADS about #gojiberries and other annoying healthy things. You may just tweet yourself into a higher house price.
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