Peer reviewed publications

Initiatives to reduce neighborhood-based health disparities require access to meaningful, timely, and local information regarding health behavior and its determinants. In this paper, we examine the validity of Twitter as a source of information for analysis of dietary patterns and attitudes. We analyze the “healthiness” quotient of food-related tweets and sentiment regarding those tweets from metropolitan Detroit. Our findings demonstrate feasibility of using Twitter to understand neighborhood characteristics regarding food attitudes and potential use in studying neighborhood-based health disparities.

Objective: To examine the feasibility of using social media to assess the consumer nutrition environment by comparing sentiment expressed in Yelp reviews with information obtained from a direct observation audit instrument for grocery stores.

We analyzed the “healthiness” quotient and sentiment in food-related tweets at the census tract level, and associated them with neighborhood characteristics and health outcomes. We analyzed keywords driving the differences in food healthiness between the most and least-affluent tracts, and qualitatively analyzed contents of a random sample of tweets.

Media coverage and public scholarship

Let’s say you fire off a tweet about the bomb grilled cheese you just made. Maybe, you wonder into the Twitterverse where you should go for good sushi. Or perhaps you get into an argument with a follower about the merits of the pumpkin spice latte. You barely think before you release your random food musing into the virtual public square, within minutes it gets buried in the timeline and soon it’s forgotten.

Well, not exactly..... [read more]

U-M researchers turned to Twitter to see whether online discussions about food can help inform policy makers.... [read more]

Twitter’s impact on public health has been under the microscope in recent years, as research suggests the social media platform may cause information overload, fuel anxiety, and enable harassers. But what about Twitter’s ability to provide meaningful data on public health outcomes at the community level? Researchers are now using it as a tool to explore correlations between the way various communities talk about food on social media and their overall health outcomes....[read more]

Twitter is a great place for consumers to vent their anger about not getting a hold of the latest holiday Starbucks cup, or to see some cheeky replies from their favorite fast-food chains. It also happens to be a useful place for public health researchers to learn about food security, health disparities, and the social determinants of health, according to a new study from the University of Michigan Medical School... [read more]