How is technology changing our eating behaviors?

The advent of home delivery meal prep kits and food delivery apps are redefining how humans consume food especially with the COVID-19 pandemic. Grubhub alone had an approximate 15% gross year-over-year rate increase as of October 2019. Another popular company, UberEATS, grew by 230% in 2017. Reports suggested that the most frequently ordered food from such platforms in the United States included cheeseburger and fries, pizzas, nachos and other calorie-dense meals (Stephens et al., 2020). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence rate for obesity in adults was 42.4% between 2017 and 2018. Meanwhile, the prevalence of obesity was 19.3% in those between the ages of 2 and 19 years old. The current obesity prevalence rate and the ease of ordering fast food is a concern. 

Recent analysis of social media and unhealthy food marketing among children and adolescents indicated that 72% of 101 participants were exposed to food marketing while using their favorite social media platform. The study showed that 27% of marketing exposure was related to fast food in children. For adolescents, 50% of market exposure related to fast food (Potvin Kent et al., 2018). Combating obesity is not a simple fix in a time where technology can be found throughout society. However, media literacy based nutrition education may also be a new way to confront the influence of marketing and technology on food consumption. A study utilized a community-based program known as FoodMania! to help parents and children analyze food marketing messages as well as improve nutrition skills. Examples of strategies used by parents included discussion of nutrition labels, increasing the availability and accessibility of healthier food options, mediating child-initiated conversations regarding food marketing. Children were also proactive in identifying and labeling food (Austin et al., 2020). 

More research needs to be done to analyze the trends of media usage and obesity. In the meantime, some helpful websites to learn about healthy eating habits and nutrition include:

For meal plan examples & Helpful guideline tools:

References

Adult obesity facts. (2021, February 11). Retrieved April 10, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html

Austin, E. W., Austin, B., Kaiser, C. K., Edwards, Z., Parker, L., & Power, T. G. (2020). A media Literacy-based nutrition PROGRAM Fosters Parent–child food marketing Discussions, improves home food environment, and YOUTH consumption of fruits and vegetables. Childhood Obesity, 16(S1). doi:10.1089/chi.2019.0240

Potvin Kent, M., Pauzé, E., Roy, E., De Billy, N., & Czoli, C. (2019). Children and adolescents’ exposure to food and beverage marketing in social media apps. Pediatric Obesity, 14(6). doi:10.1111/ijpo.12508

Stephens, J., Miller, H., & Militello, L. (2020). Food delivery apps and the negative health impacts for Americans. Frontiers in Nutrition,7. doi:10.3389/fnut.2020.00014

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