What Do People Like to “Share” About Obesity? A Content Analysis of Frequent Retweets About Obesity on Twitter

Jiyeon So, Abby Prestin, Lyndon Lee, Yafei Wang, John Yen, Wen Ying Sylvia Chou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


Twitter has been recognized as a useful channel for the sharing and dissemination of health information, owing in part to its “retweet” function. This study reports findings from a content analysis of frequently retweeted obesity-related tweets to identify the prevalent beliefs and attitudes about obesity on Twitter, as well as key message features that prompt retweeting behavior conducive to maximizing the reach of health messages on Twitter. The findings show that tweets that are emotionally evocative, humorous, and concern individual-level causes for obesity were more frequently retweeted than their counterparts. Specifically, tweets that evoke amusement were retweeted most frequently, followed by tweets evoking contentment, surprise, and anger. In regard to humor, derogatory jokes were more frequently retweeted than nonderogatory ones, and in terms of specific types of humor, weight-related puns, repartee, and parody were shared frequently. Consistent with extant literature about obesity, the findings demonstrated the predominance of the individual-level (e.g., problematic diet, lack of exercise) over social-level causes for obesity (e.g., availability of cheap and unhealthy food). Implications for designing social-media-based health campaign messages are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-206
Number of pages14
JournalHealth Communication
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication


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