You tweet what you eat: Studying food consumption through twitter

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

95 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Food is an integral part of our lives, cultures, and wellbeing, and is of major interest to public health. The collection of daily nutritional data involves keeping detailed diaries or periodic surveys and is limited in scope and reach. Alternatively, social media is infamous for allowing its users to update the world on the minutiae of their daily lives, including their eating habits. In this work we examine the potential of Twitter to provide insight into US-wide dietary choices by linking the tweeted dining experiences of 210K users to their interests, demographics, and social networks. We validate our approach by relating the caloric values of the foods mentioned in the tweets to the state-wide obesity rates, achieving a Pearson correlation of 0.77 across the 50 US states and the District of Columbia. We then build a model to predict county-wide obesity and diabetes statistics based on a combination of demographic variables and food names mentioned on Twitter. Our results show significant improvement over previous CHI research [10]. We further link this data to societal and economic factors, such as education and income, illustrating that areas with higher education levels tweet about food that is significantly less caloric. Finally, we address the somewhat controversial issue of the social nature of obesity (Christakis & Fowler [6]) by inducing two social networks using mentions and reciprocal following relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Pages3197-3206
Number of pages10
Volume2015-April
ISBN (Print)9781450331456
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Apr 2015
Event33rd Annual CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2015 - Seoul, Korea, Republic of
Duration: 18 Apr 201523 Apr 2015

Other

Other33rd Annual CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2015
CountryKorea, Republic of
CitySeoul
Period18/4/1523/4/15

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Keywords

  • Dietary health
  • Food
  • Obesity
  • Social networks
  • Twitter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
  • Software

Cite this

Abbar, S., Mejova, Y., & Weber, I. (2015). You tweet what you eat: Studying food consumption through twitter. In Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings (Vol. 2015-April, pp. 3197-3206). Association for Computing Machinery. https://doi.org/10.1145/2702123.2702153