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Digital Appetites: The Influence of Social Media on University Students’ Eating Habits and Food Expenditure in India

Basanta Kumar Bindhani and Jayanta Kumar Nayak

Published: 2024/06/01


Social media has a strong influence on eating habits, particularly among young adults and adolescents. The present study aims to assess the impact of social media on eating habits and related expenditure patterns among university students. A cross-sectional study was conducted among 835 university students in Odisha and Delhi. The data collection was conducted using structured questionnaires designed to capture detailed information about the students’ eating habits, food choices, and the influence of social media. In-depth interviews were conducted to gain qualitative insights into students’ experiences and perceptions. A significant correlation was found between social media engagement and changes in eating habits. Students reported a moderate influence of social media on trying new foods (average rating of 3.20) and experiencing food cravings (3.17), but a lesser impact on overall diet changes (2.64). The actions on social media, like posting food pictures, liking, and sharing food-related content, showed a positive correlation with the tendency to try new foods. The highest correlation was observed in posting food pictures (0.815). Concerning expenditure, 40.2 % of the students spent less than 1000 INR monthly. This was influenced by social media, with males generally spending more than females. The study revealed that social media significantly impacts the eating habits and food expenses of college students. Keywords: Eating habits, Social media, University students, Food preferences, Dietary patterns

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