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SocMed users ‘copy’ friends’ eating habits

Social media users are more likely to eat fruit and veg – or snack on junk food – if they think their friends do the same, a new study has found.

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Social media users are more likely to eat fruit and veg – or snack on junk food – if they think their friends do the same, a new study has found.

The research, by Aston University’s School of Life and Health Sciences, found that study participants ate an extra fifth of a portion of fruit and vegetables themselves for every portion they thought their social media peers ate. So, if they believed their friends got their ‘five a day’ of fruit and veg, they were likely to eat an extra portion themselves.

But conversely, the Facebook users were found to consume an extra portion of unhealthy snack foods and sugary drinks for every three portions they believed their online social circles did. The finding suggests we eat around a third more junk food if we think our friends also indulge.

The Aston University researchers said the findings provide the first evidence to suggest our online social circles could be implicitly influencing our eating habits, with important implications for using ‘nudge’ techniques on social media to encourage healthy eating.

In the study, published in the scientific journal Appetite, the researchers asked 369 university students to estimate the amount of fruit, vegetables, ‘energy-dense snacks’ and sugary drinks their Facebook peers consumed on a daily basis.

This information was cross-referenced with the participants’ own actual eating habits and showed that those who felt their social circles ‘approved’ of eating junk food consumed significantly more themselves. Meanwhile, those who thought their friends ate a healthy diet ate more portions of fruit and veg. Their perceptions could have come from seeing friends’ posts about the food and drink they consumed, or simply a general impression of their overall health.

There was no significant link between the participants’ eating habits and their Body Mass Index (BMI), a standard measure of healthy weight, however. The researchers said the next stage of their work would track a participant group over time to see whether the influence of social media on eating habits had a longer-term impact on weight.

The most recent figures from the NHS’s Health Survey for England showed that in 2018 only 28 percent of adults were eating the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day. In Wales, this was 24 percent, in Scotland 22 percent and in Northern Ireland around 20 percent. Children and young people across the UK had even lower levels of fruit and veg consumption.

Aston University health psychology PhD student Lily Hawkins, who led the study alongside supervisor Dr Jason Thomas, said:

“This study suggests we may be influenced by our social peers more than we realise when choosing certain foods. We seem to be subconsciously accounting for how others behave when making our own food choices.

“So if we believe our friends are eating plenty of fruit and veg we’re more likely to eat fruit and veg ourselves. On the other hand, if we feel they’re happy to consume lots of snacks and sugary drinks, it can give us a ‘licence to overeat’ foods that are bad for our health.

“The implication is that we can use social media as a tool to ‘nudge’ each other’s eating behaviour within friendship groups, and potentially use this knowledge as a tool for public health interventions.”

Professor Claire Farrow, Director of Aston University’s Applied Health Research Group whose work has contributed to the national Child Feeding Guide resource, added:

“With children and young people spending a huge amount of time interacting with peers and influencers via social media, the important new findings from this study could help shape how we deliver interventions that help them adopt healthy eating habits from a young age – and stick with them for life.”

Aisling Pigott, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association (BDA), said:

“Research such as this demonstrates how we are influenced by online perceptions about how others eat. The promotion of positive health messages across social media, which are focused on promoting healthy choices and non-restrictive relationships with food and body, could nudge people into making positive decisions around the food they eat.

“We do have to be mindful of the importance of ‘nudging’ positive behaviours and not ‘shaming’ food choices on social media as a health intervention. We know that generating guilt around food is not particularly helpful when it comes to lifestyle change and maintenance.”

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Optimism wards off procrastination

While procrastinators often admonish themselves for their “bad habit,” it turns out that their worries for the future are more to blame.

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People with an optimistic outlook on the future are less likely to be severe procrastinators, according to new research at the University of Tokyo. While procrastinators often admonish themselves for their “bad habit,” it turns out that their worries for the future are more to blame. Through a survey of nearly 300 young people, researchers found that those who had a positive view about their stress levels decreasing in the future, compared to the past or present, were less likely to experience severe procrastination. Views on personal well-being didn’t appear to have an effect. Improving people’s outlook and readiness for the future could help them overcome procrastination and achieve a less stressful lifestyle. 

How many times have you made a “to do” list, and although the most important task is at the top, you seem to be working your way up from the bottom or distracted by something else entirely? While we might chide ourselves for procrastinating, sometimes the more we try to overcome it, the more stressed we feel and the cycle continues. That is how it was for graduate student Saya Kashiwakura from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tokyo, so she decided to investigate why.

“I have struggled with procrastination since childhood. I would clean my room when I needed to study for a test and prioritize aikido practice over my postgraduate research. This habit of putting off important tasks has been a constant challenge,” said Kashiwakura. “I wanted to change my behavior, as I realized that I was not confronting the future impact of my actions.”

This inspired Kashiwakura to examine the relationship between procrastination and the procrastinator’s perspective on time, particularly their view of the future. When she began researching procrastination, she was surprised to discover that many more people suffer from it than she had imagined and found it reassuring her problems were not unique.

Previous research has shown that a feature of procrastination is disregard for the future or difficulty linking present actions with future outcomes. However, the reasons for this have been unclear. Kashiwakura and co-author Professor Kazuo Hiraki, also from UTokyo, proposed that it might be because severe procrastinators have a more pessimistic outlook. 

The researchers surveyed 296 participants in Japan in their 20s for their views on stress and well-being, and importantly how these changed over time. This included asking about their experiences from 10 years in the past through to the present, and their expectations for 10 years in the future. From the results, participants were clustered into one of four groups (for example, if they thought their situation would improve or would stay the same), and then each group was divided into severe, middle and low procrastinators. 

“Our research showed that optimistic people — those who believe that stress does not increase as we move into the future — are less likely to have severe procrastination habits,” explained Kashiwakura. “This finding helped me adopt a more light-hearted perspective on the future, leading to a more direct view and reduced procrastination.” 

It was not only the level of stress people experienced, but how their perception of it changed over the 20-year time period discussed, which influenced their procrastination habits. Surprisingly, a relationship wasn’t found between procrastination and negative views on well-being, such as one’s attitude towards oneself, or not yet finding purpose and goals in life.

Using these results, the team wants to develop ways to help people nurture a more optimistic mindset and overcome procrastination. “We hope our findings will be particularly useful in the education sector. We believe that students will achieve better outcomes and experience greater well-being when they can comprehend their procrastination tendencies scientifically, and actively work on improving them, rather than blaming themselves,” said Kashiwakura. 

“Thoughts can change with just a few minutes of watching a video or be shaped by years of accumulation. Our next step is to investigate which approach is appropriate this time, and how we can develop the ‘right’ mindset to lead a happier and more fulfilling life.”

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Study shows how night shift work can raise risk of diabetes, obesity

“When internal rhythms are dysregulated, you have this enduring stress in your system that we believe has long-term health consequences.”

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Just a few days on a night shift schedule throws off protein rhythms related to blood glucose regulation, energy metabolism and inflammation, processes that can influence the development of chronic metabolic conditions.

The finding, from a study led by scientists at Washington State University and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, provides new clues as to why night shift workers are more prone to diabetes, obesity and other metabolic disorders.

“There are processes tied to the master biological clock in our brain that are saying that day is day and night is night and other processes that follow rhythms set elsewhere in the body that say night is day and day is night,” said senior study author Hans Van Dongen, a professor in the WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine. “When internal rhythms are dysregulated, you have this enduring stress in your system that we believe has long-term health consequences.”

Though more research is needed, Van Dongen said the study shows that these disrupted rhythms can be seen in as little as three days, which suggests early intervention to prevent diabetes and obesity is possible. Such intervention could also help lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, which is elevated in night shift workers as well.

Published in the Journal of Proteome Research, the study involved a controlled laboratory experiment with volunteers who were put on simulated night or day shift schedules for three days. Following their last shift, participants were kept awake for 24 hours under constant conditions—lighting, temperature, posture and food intake—to measure their internal biological rhythms without interference from outside influences. 

Blood samples drawn at regular intervals throughout the 24-hour period were analyzed to identify proteins present in blood-based immune system cells. Some proteins had rhythms closely tied to the master biological clock, which keeps the body on a 24-hour rhythm. The master clock is resilient to altered shift schedules, so these protein rhythms didn’t change much in response to the night shift schedule.

However, most other proteins had rhythms that changed substantially in night shift participants compared to the day shift participants.

Looking more closely at proteins involved in glucose regulation, the researchers observed a nearly complete reversal of glucose rhythms in night shift participants. They also found that processes involved in insulin production and sensitivity, which normally work together to keep glucose levels within a healthy range, were no longer synchronized in night shift participants.

The researchers said this effect could be caused by the regulation of insulin trying to undo the glucose changes triggered by the night shift schedule. They said this may be a healthy response in the moment, as altered glucose levels may damage cells and organs, but could be problematic in the long run.

“What we showed is that we can really see a difference in molecular patterns between volunteers with normal schedules and those with schedules that are misaligned with their biological clock,” said Jason McDermott, a computational scientist with PNNL’s Biological Sciences Division. “The effects of this misalignment had not yet been characterized at this molecular level and in this controlled manner before.”

The researchers’ next step will be to study real-world workers to determine whether night shifts cause similar protein changes in long-term shift workers.

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USANA Philippines celebrates 15-year anniversary

Beyond awards, the community it empowers is the true measure of success. From employees to Associates, life-changing opportunities allow them to grow both personally and professionally.

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USANA Philippines recently celebrated its 15-year anniversary in it its ongoing mission to maintain wellness. Company executives, ambassadors, Associates, and product users all attended this grand celebration — a testament to the unwavering commitment to reach one million families worldwide.  

Since its launch in 2009, USANA Philippines has received numerous accolades: Named among the best companies to work for in the country by the HR Asia Awards; Winning the prestigious Linchpin Award from the Asia Pacific Enterprise Awards (APEA); Recognized by Euromonitor as the Number 1 Vitamins and Dietary Supplements Brand in the Philippines for five consecutive years. 

But beyond awards, the community it empowers is the true measure of success. From employees to Associates, life-changing opportunities allow them to grow both personally and professionally.

When Analan Omambing, assistant customer service manager, joined USANA she was shy and introverted, but the support she’s received has pushed her to step up as a team leader.  “The career growth and personal development I gained here have transformed my personality significantly,” she says.  

USANA Philippines also creates ways to form meaningful relationships.  

“Direct selling, especially USANA, is all about relationships,” says Aurora Gaston, vice president for sales development.   

As the first employee hired by USANA Philippines, Loudelle Cinco, USANA’s regional controller in the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia has experienced it all.  

“One of the things I treasure is the friendship, having a family in USANA. This position has paved the way to building great and lasting relationships.”  

Over the past 15 years, USANA has seen a shift in their Associate’s perspectives — from a focus on individual success to embracing a more collaborative and inclusive view of the community.  

“This comprehensive development approach underscores USANA’s commitment to not only enhance the lives of our Associates but also empower them to make a meaningful difference in the world” shared Cherry Dionisio-Ampig, general manager for USANA Philippines.  

USANA consistently strives to make an impact by being responsive to shifts in consumer behavior. Changes made over the years include strengthening the brand through collaboration, embracing the evolution of social media, and ensuring Associates can effortlessly introduce USANA’s products to the world. And as USANA Philippines celebrates this milestone, its vigor to sustain wins and touch more lives grows even stronger.  

“We are dedicated to ongoing research and innovation to develop products that not only meet — but exceed — the expectations of families worldwide. By focusing on efficacy and quality, we aim to be the trusted partner in every family’s journey towards maintaining wellness” Cherry says.   

The 15-Year “Ignite the Vibe” celebration was held at the Marriot Hotel Grand Ballroom. It’s the final touch to the anniversary festivities that kicked off with a Thanksgiving Day event in January.

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