A research work analyzes the content published by nutrition macro-influencers on Instagram

ANA SERRA// A research carried out by the ScienceFlows group has studied the visual and textual discourse of 98 macro-influencers (profiles with more than 100,000 followers) on Instagram who disseminate nutrition content. The study was carried out by analyzing the content of influencers in five European countries: France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.

The study was carried out based on the analysis of the images, the texts that accompany them and the hashtags used. In this way, researcher have conclude that macro-influencers on Instagram fundamentally promote eating habits focused on a specific physical change, through the consumption of certain products and foods. In fact, as the authors of the study explain, “The intrinsic thread of the discourse is the appeal to motivation, support, and inspiration to achieve specific goals related to food and physical health”.

As the researchers explain, it has been found that, despite the differences between countries, the general trend is the promotion of eating habits to achieve specific physical changes, whether weight loss or gain, increase in muscle mass or improving sports performance. The research has analyzed both the images used by the profiles dedicated to nutrition and the texts that accompany them and the hashtags used.

Visual analysis of the images

The analysis of the visual discourse of Instagram profiles has revealed two main thematic groups in the five countries: food and sport. In relation to the first group, the analysis has shown how influencers tend to promote the indigenous food culture of each region, occasionally recognizing internationalized food movements. In this sense, the main global food trend reported is the consumption of bowls of natural cereals, fruits and nuts accompanied by vegetable and fruit juices.

The second group, sports, reveals that influencers tend to publish images that represent physical exercise, fitness and training. The images in this category are aimed at promoting food or sports products and are intended to be inspiring for the audience.

Hashtags analysis

Although there are different trends between countries, they are all grouped around four main categories: weight loss, diet culture, sport and healthy eating. In the case of France, the predominant topic is around weight loss and diet culture. In Germany, hashtags focus especially on healthy recipes, balanced diets, nutritional recommendations and diets aimed at increasing muscle mass or losing weight. In Spain, labels focus on sport, exercise and diets adapted to specific physical training objectives. Although healthy eating is a relevant topic, there are no specific hashtags. In Italy the main hashtag is related to diet, but the most used ones focus on healthy eating. In the case of the United Kingdom, the most used hashtags are linked to weight loss and healthy eating. Content includes nutritional advice and recipes.

Textual discourse analysis

Regarding the analysis of the texts, the study has revealed three main themes for each country. Thus, in France three contexts were identified in which sport is present: foods beneficial for health in terms of physical conditioning, exercise and dietary culture.

In Germany, however, the three clusters are sport and ingredients; healthy lifestyle and recipes and the third focused on kitchen utensils and appliances. Italy and France present similarities since food is the common link of the three thematic clusters: recipes, healthy eating styles and food ingredients and products. In the case of Spain, there is a cluster associated with goals and results linked to food, a second with ingredients and the third focused on the types of diets. Finally, in the case of the United Kingdom, the three contexts are more related to each other: food focused on weight loss or gain; sport and healthy habits and, the last, ingredients related mainly to recipes.

Access to the paper here