Social media are teenagers preferred guide to healthy food habits

Social media and parents have the biggest impact on teens’ eating habits while experts and dietary recommendations have the least impact. This is especially true for the Swedish teens, shows a Nordic study conducted by Arla.

A survey among 1,500 teenagers in Sweden, Denmark and Finland shows that three out of four teenagers do not consider the recommendations from food authorities to be important or useful. The survey was conducted by Ipsos on behalf of Arla last summer.

When the teens were asked, who has the biggest influence on their eating habits and desire to change them, the social media and parents was their first answers, while doctors, official dietary advice and nutritionists end up at the bottom of the list.

– Although the experts seem to have a low impact, it may well be that they have an indirect influence via the parents. But the fact, that social media is on the top on the list is hardly surprising. Many of the biggest Swedish ’influencers’ talk about food and often cook on their channels, and this affects, what the teenagers eat. That is why the ’influencers’ have a great responsibility, Elin Boll, nutrition specialist at Arla Sweden, says.

The study also shows that Swedish teenagers’ knowledge of what their national dietary recommendation are significantly lower than among teens in the neighbouring countries. Only 45 percent of the Swedish teenagers have a clear picture of the advice from the food authorities. Neither are the Swedish teenagers as interested in information about healthy food compared to the Finns and Danes. Only 9 percent of the Swedes searched for information to eat healthy. In Denmark the corresponding figure is 25 percent and in Finland 38 percent. When teens seek guidance on eating healthier, the most used channels are online recipes and social media.

– All of us who work in the food industry have a responsibility to inspire a healthy and sustainable diet based on scientific facts. But we also need to meet the target audience where they are and on their terms. There is a lot of knowledge, but it must be conveyed correctly, Elin Boll, says.

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