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A thematic content analysis of #cheatmeal images on social media: Characterizing an emerging dietary trend


Pila, E and Mond, JM and Griffiths, S and Mitchison, D and Murray, SB, A thematic content analysis of #cheatmeal images on social media: Characterizing an emerging dietary trend, The International Journal of Eating Disorders, 50, (6) pp. 698-706. ISSN 0276-3478 (2017) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2017 Wiley Periodicals

DOI: doi:10.1002/eat.22671


Despite the pervasive social endorsement of "cheat meals" within pro-muscularity online communities, there is an absence of empirical work examining this dietary phenomenon. The present study aimed to characterize cheat meals, and explore the meaning ascribed to engagement in this practice. Thematic content analysis was employed to code the photographic and textual elements of a sample (n 5 600) that was extracted from over 1.6 million images marked with the #cheatmeal tag on the social networking site, Instagram. Analysis of the volume and type of food revealed the presence of very large quantities (54.5%) of calorie-dense foods (71.3%) that was rated to qualify as an objective binge episode. Photographic content of people commonly portrayed highlymuscular bodies (60.7%) in the act of intentional body exposure (40.0%). Meanwhile, textual content exemplified the idealization of overconsumption, a strict commitment to fitness, and a rewardbased framework around diet and fitness. Collectively, these findings position cheat meals as goaloriented dietary practices in the pursuit of physique-ideals, thus underscoring the potential clinical repercussions of this socially-endorsed dietary phenomenon.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:binge eating, cheat meal, content analysis, eating disorders
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Health services and systems
Research Field:Mental health services
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Mental health
UTAS Author:Mond, JM (Dr Jon Mond)
ID Code:123103
Year Published:2017
Web of Science® Times Cited:32
Deposited By:UTAS Centre for Rural Health
Deposited On:2017-12-15
Last Modified:2018-08-24

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