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Table 3 Qualitative study themes

From: Social media use for nutrition outcomes in young adults: a mixed-methods systematic review

Theme Study findings Study design
Information dissemination First-year university students unanimously liked the idea of posting healthy-eating and physical-activity tips on a Facebook page. Students suggested the posting of nutrition information on menu items, greater food variety with healthier options, less variety for unhealthy food in dining halls, and coordination of university based activities as ways to improve healthy eating and physical activity [51]. Focus groups; formative research (informing trial design)
In focus group and individual interviews, young adults described the connection between food and social media. It was associated with increased food choices [65]. Focus groups and interviews
In an online weight-loss support community, the most discussed topics on were: healthy food, clothing, calorie counting g, workouts, looks, habits, support, and unhealthy food [48]. Observational; Retrospective cohort
Social support Young university students indicated there were a few instances (exceptions) where it MAY be ok to share health information via social media. This may be when you have achieved something “He really liked doing that, to share with people, and he had loads of people “liking” it, and he felt that was quite inspiring.” [52] Focus groups
In focus group and individual interviews, young adults reported it was common for people to post food and exercise pictures/updates on social media particularly regarding accomplishments [65]. Focus groups; formative research (informing trial design)
In an online weight-loss support community, support was a common theme found in the comments (encouraging the people posting the topic) [48]. Observational; Retrospective cohort
Social undesirability Most participants reported that they felt supported to make lifestyle changes by the study team but less so by others within the group [41]. Process evaluation of a Twitter-delivered intervention.
Young adults felt that social media features of apps were unnecessary, inappropriate and off-putting due to the social undesirability i.e. it’s slightly embarrassing. “If this popped up, I think people would laugh at me.” [52] Focus groups
In a process evaluation where participants were exposed to a Facebook page, some participants “lurked” on Facebook (i.e. they saw posts but did not want to interact with them.) Some did not feel comfortable sharing their personal information on Facebook, particularly because their friends could see it. They also found that participants felt that Facebook was “too public” to post information about being in a weight loss program [46]. Process evaluation of a Facebook-delivered intervention.