A new study, led by Jenine K. Harris, PhD, assistant professor at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis, examined the use of the hashtag #childhoodobesity to track Twitter conversations about the issue of overweight kids.
Published this month in the American Journal of Public Health, the study noted that Twitter conversations involving childhood obesity don’t often include comments from representatives of government and public health organizations that likely have evidence relating to how best to approach this issue.
The Pew Research Center found that Twitter is used more by those in lower-income groups, which traditionally are more difficult to reach with health information.“Childhood obesity is of great concern to the public health community,” Harris said. “People are really talking about it on Twitter, and we saw an opportunity to better understand perceptions of the problem.”
In its 2014 Twitter update, the Pew Research Center found that Twitter is used more by those in lower-income groups, which traditionally are more difficult to reach with health information. And this is one of the reasons Twitter is an avenue that the academic and government sources with accurate health information should consider taking advantage of in order to reach a wide variety of people.
“I think public health so far doesn’t have a great game plan for using social media, we’re still laying the foundation for that,” she said. “We’re still learning what works.
Childhood obesity is one of the top public health concerns in the United States, with 32% of youths aged 2-19 classified as obese as of 2012.
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