Background Nowadays, dietitians widely use social media tools such as Instagram in order to build their clientele as well as share healthy eating tips and recipes.
Objectives This study aimed to evaluate the nutritional content of recipes shared by dietitians on Instagram.
Methods Instagram accounts of Turkish dietitians who had a blue tick (known as the Instagram verified sticker) in their account and more than 100,000 followers were included. We determined the last 10 Instagram recipe posts of each dietitian and divided them into 7 categories according to their content: main dish, soup, healthy bakery products, breakfast, salads, drink including smoothies and sweets. Nutritional composition (macro and micronutrients) of the recipes was analyzed based on one serving size. Post demographics including number of likes, hashtags and comments were also recorded.
Results We identified a total of 98 recipes. The majority of the posts were shared as photo (80.6%) whereas the rest of the posts (19.4%) were shared as video. The mean (SD) number of likes was 6108.9 (17971.2). The most shared recipe category was sweets category (36.1%), followed by salads category (17.0%). Salads category had the highest energy (381.4±126.8 kcal), protein (15.1 ± 14.5 g) and fat content (24.0 ± 10.0 g) per one serving. Sweets category had the lowest energy (139.9 ± 63.2 kcal) per one serving. Soup category had the highest carbohydrate content (44.1 ± 24.0 g).
Conclusion Our research provides important information about the nutrient content of the recipes shared by dietitians on Instagram, which is an increasingly popular avenue for the general public, especially for those who do not have an opportunity to see a dietitian. Healthy recipe posts of dietitians on Instagram may be potentially misleading for public who may believe these foods are healthier than the regular alternatives. As such, following healthy recipes may be unlikely to confer any additional health benefits to the individual. There is a need for social media guidelines on how dietitians can effectively communicate via social media with the potential clients as trusted source of information.
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