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Does Pinterest promote unhealthy eating?

Does Pinterest promote unhealthy eating?

I’m a few days late to this, but I was intrigued by a dietician-blogger’s recent take on Pinterest, the social photo-sharing website, and its promotion of less-than-good-for-you foods. Nutrition Unplugged’s Janet writes:

…What I don’t like so much is the popularity of gooey, over-the-top desserts that dominant so many pinboards.  I don’t even like the oft-used description of “food porn,” but I guess that’s what it really is.

I looked at Repinly to find the most popular food pins of all time, and guess what, it’s sugary, fad-laden creations like Oreo Layer Dessert (46,309  repins) and Butterfinger Pie (21,663 repins).  Hey, I’m not against a nice dessert now and then. I have my own board of Something Sweet, among my 42 boards, which includes Whole Grains, Veggie Love, Salads I Want to Try and All About Hummus. So desserts are OK, but does the world really need more calorie bombs like these creations made with cream cheese and whipped topping. Come on, we can do better than that. Do we really need more ideas for cookie-stuffed cookies smothered in chocolate or deep-fried? I’m not the only dietitian troubled by what’s happening on Pinterest. Julie Upton over at Appetite for Health recently wrote about the same topic: “Are Pinterest recipes destroying your diet?

Janet goes on to describe how she and a fellow blogger created a Pinterest page to provide tips and photos of “what’s healthy to eat on the web.” Because good-for-you foods can be beautiful too!

Photo by davegammon

41 Responses to “ Does Pinterest promote unhealthy eating? ”

  1. Emilie Says:

    I agree, so many of the food postings are quite decadent, as most fashion postings seem to be haute couture and steam punk variations. That said, I have not noticed any surge in suburban daywear corsetry at my local Safeway, nor has there been a run on Oreos and Cool-Whip (to my knowledge). Much of Pinterest includes the fanciful and wishful whims of its users. It is not a daily log of reality. I think most people pinning are pinning for fun, not actually recreating all of these dessert divinities on a regular basis.

  2. Mila Says:

    People can make there own decisions wether to eat unhealthy or not, but if it’s once in awhile and someone is making this desert for a party, why not. It’s different and looks delicious

  3. Krista Says:

    okay enough of the “nanny state ” already. if people wan’t to make a choice and eat a fattening dessert then so be it. I myself repin some of the calorie ladden desserts, and have no intention of making them but they look great. People stop worrying about what others are doing are take care of yourself.

  4. cathy Says:

    Does the fast food industry promote unhealthy eating? Do the restaurants that give extra large portions promote unhealthy eating? People have to have a mind of their own and some self control. If they’re so swayed by pictures on the internet, Pinterest is the least of their problems. People- take responsibility for your actions!!!!!!

  5. Gentilly Lady Says:

    I probably only indulge in a dessert 2 or 3 times a month. Therefore, when I have a dessert it has to be something special. I don’t mind spending extensive effort and time in its preparation. It is fun to have that Pinterest page of recipes with the beautiful visuals. I say everything in moderation and watch your portion size. That being said, the above picture does not appeal to me in the least.

  6. Maureen Says:

    Amen,Mila. Well said. Before long ANYTHING we do will be unhealthy or killing us in somebody’s estimation! I’m sure that it would be more healthy for me never to eat a Calorie and fat laden desert, but that is not going to happen. And, when I’m in the mood I want sweets not a “sweet salad”.

  7. carolyn huston Says:

    I love the pictures, but i have been dieting and it has been be a great resource to find healthy meals that are easy and quick on one site. I
    Would love some of those pies:)

  8. Elizabeth Says:

    Pinterest, as with all social media, will find it’s own niche, and the people within it -that’s why you can opt to “follow” people: you are what you Pin. If your taste runs to the ordinary, that’s what you’ll follow; if not – not.
    I’d say pics of food on Pinterest have less of an appeal than a 30 second McD commercial – and guess what, two year olds are not subjected to same!

  9. sherrie Says:

    If other people are like me, Pinterest is a “wish website”, much like a kid at Christmas. When talking about Pinterest with my friends, all we ever talk about are the things that we have seen on there, not the crafts, recipes, home decor etc. that we are actually going to do. The “doing” of the things posted on Pinterest is only looking at the stuff. That’s it. So don’t make it a big deal. I know I can spend a great deal of time looking thru the pins, and then feel guilty because I have spent so much time browsing. I will probably never do any of the stuff that I ooh and aah over.

  10. Lisa Says:

    I NEVER post comments on these things, but had to on this one. Are you KIDDING me! I am so sick of turning on the TV, reading a magazine, website or paper and every time there is some “expert” harping on about one thing or another causing unhealthy eating. This is another prime example of blaming everyone or everything else for the problems in the world. People make their own choices, and if they want to make an unhealthy meal or dessert they are going to do it whether it is on Pinterest or not. I have pinned hundreds of recipes on my recipes board, most are “treats” and out of the hundreds I have made 2 of them, both to take for an event. Just because people “pin” it, it doesn’t mean they are eating it for 3 meals a day. I have stacks of cookbooks and cooking magazines with “bad food” in them too, guess that will be blamed in the next stupid expert article on why people are overweight and unhealthy.

  11. Jennifer Harter Says:

    So Pinterest is worse than commercials and Food TV? The real problem is the availability of fresh foods and food education in our inner cities. Instead of whining about a fun pinboard site, how about supporting the rescue of millions of tons of produce being thrown away because spoiled Americans won’t by it with a little spot?

  12. Scott Says:

    I think everybody has to complain about something! I have a ton of sweets pined in my food board, but so far all my wife has madefrom it is crock pot meals, and a couple other dinner casseroles! I have to agree a little with Emilie on this one!!! But I do also pin alot of health and fitness pins as well! So why don’t the dietitians look at that as well!!! Like I said, everybody has to complain about something!!! I think pinterest is an amazing site, and I love it!!! Thank you

  13. Christine Says:

    I think that if someone wants to eat what is posted on Pinterest then let them. Really, is it promoting unhealthly eating, do you live in America? The US is leading in overweight people and it is not because of Pinterest,it is because of the convience of fastfood and lazyness!! Eating unhealthy is a CHOICE…. PIN ON ladies!!

  14. lola Says:

    have you also checked out the healthy things on pinterest. people can choose what they want to eat, pinterest isnt making them eat it.You can eat your healthy food and they can eat their unhealthy food.

  15. K Leidy Says:

    Even I, on occasion, have protested the voluminous amount of chocolatey goodnes found on Pinterest.

    Yet, I still look, and salivate, lick my lips and sigh.

    But, I’m strong. Those confections never pass my lips. I just shut my computer and walk away…and dream about them all day!

    Food porn is the pefect word.

  16. Mandy Says:

    If Pinterest is advocating for unhealthy food choices, then it is also advocating for exercise, smoothies, bikinis, stilettos, zombies, classroom crafts, and little knit baby hats. I get that you have your opinion. You are entitled to that. You can blog about it all you want, but to generalize and say that there is “promotion of less-than-good-for-you foods” is simply not fair.

  17. Gina Houser Says:

    It truly amazed me that George Burns smoked Cuban Cigars everyday of his life, and lived to be 100 years old! So if it disturbs someone about their eating habits and choices of food, or their lifestyle in general, turn the TV off honey, and be a little more productive in the world, like situations that really matter, Drug Abuse etc.

  18. Heather Says:

    Funny, I find the “Thinspiration” posts (even though many are not labeled as such) to be much more disturbing from a health perspective. It probably doesn’t help that many of the recipes make me gag with the processed foods, lack of flavor, and/or tons of unnecessary salt.

  19. Pam Remington Says:

    While I pin many decadent desserts, I pin just as many healthy vegetarian options. The world is full of options, and each individual has to make their own wise choices. Pinterest is no worse than any other venue at presenting unhealthy options, so dietitians stop your worrying.

  20. Brittany Says:

    I completely disagree, I have found more healthy recipes than anything else on Pinterest. While I do pin tasty desserts to it is more to have on file in case I need an idea for a future special event. However I have made more than 5 of my vegetarian recipes on Pinterest and have found many new healthy favorites.

    People need to stop acting all high and mighty and lump everyone together and make blanket statements.

  21. Joanne Says:

    I am just laughing at this. It’s choices. I love pinterest and all the ideas. People with eating disorders can still make good decisions about what they eat and how much they choose to consume. We aren’t responsible for everyone.

  22. Deb Says:

    Gee, how can I pin this dessert?
    ;-)

  23. ColasBeach Says:

    Watch Food Inc. we have bigger issues than Pinterest. Maybe we should be questioning what is in 90 percent of the food in the super market?

  24. Susie Says:

    It is PINTEREST not prevention! Smell the roses. Get a life. Eat a decadent, gooey, scrumptious brownie!!!

  25. Debra Says:

    Are you kidding me. Please.
    If i pin a pretty dessert, its probably an idea
    For a fancy party i may have, someday.
    You must be one of those liberals that want to limit
    The size of the coke a person can buy,
    By the way, i dont drink soda, because i know its not good
    For me. I figured that out all by myself.

  26. BC Says:

    This is so silly. Pinning decadent desserts doesn’t mean that’s all people are eating. I love finding new recipes for healthy dinners and snacks as well as delicious desserts which I make SPARINGLY because I know how to maintain a good diet. I have a ton of desserts on my pinboard, that doesn’t mean I’m actually eating them everyday.

  27. kaye Says:

    how many people really make these things–isn’t pinterest for dreaming of things we’ll never do?

  28. cj Says:

    Stop blaming the fork for making people fat. This is so stupid. Its called choice, you dont like it dont look. What next outlawing pictures of bacon and eggs because of cholesterol? You’re ridiculous and so are all of the other morons in this country that think that no one can think for themselves. I could tell you what to eat Janet dear, and its not a brownie

  29. Alana Says:

    I find this conversation exhausting. We live in a time in which we are overloaded with information about everything from relationships, to food choices, to ‘top product picks’. The bottom line is this, we are going to continue to be bombarded with an infinite number of opinions, recipes, diet tips, images and advertisements. It is our responsibility as thoughtful citizens to learn how to weed through it all and maintain some sort of balance, or to simply turn it off. Pinterest is just another vehicle for these images and ideas, and I feel, no different than leafing through the magazine isle at the grocery store. At the end of the day, it’s about choice.

  30. Jackie Says:

    No, Pinterst doesn’t promote anything. It is a virtual bulletin board of many creative ideas including recipes. What you do or do not do with it is up to you. Mystery solved! Next?

  31. Lynn Says:

    Oh……..PU…lease….. Do we not have a freedom of CHOICE??????

  32. BD Says:

    Do we really need to babysit adults on pintrest? This is a FREE country. Fat, skinny, whichever. Who cares anyways? If a cake picture is the worst of your worries, you have a first world problem. There are plenty more serious issues to whine about and help out with, We don’t need the food police.

  33. MARIVEL Says:

    Pinterest is a wonderful website and I do not think it promotes anything. I am vegan and do see the pins of very unhealthy recipes, recipes that I would never make, on the other hand I search for vegan recipes and am very pleased with the amount of healthy, clean recipes that I do find. I think it is a matter of personal choice. If Mary wants to eat deep fried, fudge covered, Oreos sandwiched on a funnel cake, Mary will. If Mary doesn’t she will simply not repin to her recipe board. If i don’t like a seating arrangement I am simply not going to repin it. If I like a gardening tutorial I am going to repin it. Simple as that.

  34. Karol Says:

    Dietitians who worry about pictures of food are insulting the intellect of the consumer. Sure, some of us make bad choices, but I doubt seriously that Pinterest, or the Food Network, or a magazine is responsible. I have lost 60 lbs. And kept it off, all the while pinning recipes of all types. The truth is that you have to make a conscious decision and make it your lifestyle. An occasional dessert does not shoot that down.

    I am tired of those who want to control what we see or purchase because they feel it isn’t good for us. The facts are out there, and we can make our own choices. Please find something a little more useful to worry about!

  35. Diana Harryman Says:

    Please remember how many people have a board called “Things I Actually Made from Pinterest”

  36. Does Pinterest promote unhealthy eating? | Scope Blog | Healthier Eating Tips Says:

    [...] reading here: Does Pinterest promote unhealthy eating? | Scope Blog ← Steal These International Healthy-Food Habits!: Eat Like Me – Self.com A Guide [...]

  37. Grand Roundup: Top posts for the week of Sept. 2 | Scope Blog Says:

    [...] Does Pinterest promote unhealthy eating?: A dietician-blogger’s take on the popularity of sugary dessert images on Pinterest and how the photos might promote unhealthy eating habits. [...]

  38. Janet Helm Says:

    Ok, I feel like I need to join the conversation. I’m the author of the original blog post that Michelle wrote about. Wow, lots of hostility here! I think you’ve missed the point of my original article. I love Pinterest…and yes, there are lots of healthy recipes on Pinterest. And of course, there are lots of more powerful influences. I wrote the post to talk about a new initiative that I helped create to make it easier to find healthy foods on the web. I talked about the most popular pins (rich, decadent desserts) to contrast what I’d love to see more of. Beyond Pinterest, the big food photo galleries also have desserts as the most popular. That’s why I worked with another registered dietitian to create Healthy Aperture. We want people to be just as excited about pinning healthy foods…and inspired to make some of those recipes instead of a deep-fried, cookie stuffed cookie coated in hot fudge. That’s all.

  39. David Stucker Says:

    This is insane. Just because someone has something pinned doesn’t mean they are eating it…come on…always trying to point the blame elsewhere.

  40. Kristin Marriott Says:

    I agree with Janet. There is a dichotomy in our culture which seems to encourage people to eat whatever they want whilst bombarding us with “diet do’s and don’ts” “how to lose 10 pounds in 10 days’, “get the body that you deserve!”. The most popular subjects pinned are fatty, unhealthy foods and diets. The same is true for women’s magazines: recipes ad ads for high calorie foods and then the dieting/workout articles.

  41. Sam Says:

    I’m surprised the comments are so defensive. I have no issue with dessert recipes on pinterest – but I am shocked that so many of them are not what I’d even call ‘recipes’ per se, just people taking various brand name/ processed foods and melting them on top of each other or sticking them inside each other. (Same with many of the non-dessert recipes too, actually. I had no idea stuff like ‘dorito casserole’ even existed before pinterest.) I’m mystified anyone would want to eat that, but it is fascinating.

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