“Soy causes cancer.” “Gluten may lead to autism.” “There’s yoga mat material in your sandwich!” “Sugar feeds cancer!”
Are your Facebook friends making you afraid to eat? New research in the journal Food Quality and Preference identifies who fears food the most —and it’s probably those of us most addicted to social media. In other words, the more we share, the more we scare.
“We’ve been looking at a lot of these food misconceptions,” says food psychologist Brian Wansink, the John S. Dyson Professor or Marketing at Cornell University. “It’s kind of crazy. How do these things get started and get traction without really any evidence at all?”
To understand this, Wansink and his colleagues at the Food and Brand Lab surveyed 1,080 mothers, who have at least two children, about their feelings on high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). People who feared food the most were better educated, but find most of their food facts from Facebook newsfeeds, Twitter, blogs, or friends.
“They tend to be the people who get the most information from ‘like me’ sources,” Wansink says. “When you start to do searches on the Internet you can always find … support.” In addition to suffering from misconceptions about food, they also feel strongly about sharing these opinions on social media or their own blogs.