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Twitter Food Fight: Beer and Pizza Win

Remember when you tweeted, "That pizza was #delish!" Social scientists were watching.

And when you gushed on Twitter about that Salted Caramel Mocha Frappuccino from Starbucks, they took note of that, too.

University of Utah researchers surveyed nearly 80 million tweets over a one-year period to find out what our tweets say about our health. The short answer is that we drink a lot of Starbucks coffee, we chug beer, we drink wine and then we stuff ourselves with pizza, tacos and ice cream.

The top 10 most tweeted foods:
1. Coffee
2. Beer
3. Pizza
4. Starbucks
5. IPA beer
6. Wine
7. Chicken
8. BBQ
9. Ice cream
10. Tacos

Chicken is the only food on this top 10 list that is considered healthy. In other news, Starbucks is a food.

But there is a bigger picture here than what we had for dinner last night. When tweets are analyzed based on the neighborhoods from which they are posted, combined with census data and health surveys, they reveal a lot about a community's overall health, as well as how our environment--the area in which we live, work and play--impacts our health and well-being.

The University of Utah scientists concluded:

  • Tweets from poor neighborhoods and regions with large households were less likely to mention healthy foods.

  • People who live in areas dense with fast food restaurants tweeted more often about fast food.

  • Communities with more chatter about walking, dancing, running and other physical activities also had fewer deaths and lower rates of obesity.

  • Positive sentiments toward healthy foods were also broadly related to fewer deaths and lower rates of chronic health conditions.

Important caveats: Twitter users, who skew young, are not representative of the U.S. population. Also, people are more likely to tweet about that celebratory cupcake than the celery and carrots they ate for lunch. Still, this is viewed as a promising and cost-effective way to study the social and environmental influences on our health.

--From the Editors at Netscape

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