Researchers warn of nutritional hoaxes and launch a campaign to detect them on social networks

Researchers Ana Serra, Carolina Moreno and Paula von Polheim.
Researchers Ana Serra, Carolina Moreno and Paula von Polheim.
The CADENUSA project (Awareness Campaign on Misinformation and Hoaxes in Nutrition and Food Safety), funded by the UNESCO Chair and directed by three researchers from the ScienceFlows group of the University of Valencia, seeks to educate the population on nutrition issues through the detection of hoaxes on the Internet, especially in university students. The study has launched a survey to find out which are the main sources of information on hoaxes and has published a manual with good practices for communication and promotion of healthy eating.

The pandemic situation has revealed that an important part of the misinformation and hoaxes circulating on social networks is related to nutrition, diet and food. "Misleading messages can cause harmful effects on health, which is why CADENUSA wants to disseminate informative materials that help the population to detect them", explain researchers Paula von Polheim, Ana Serra and Carolina Moreno.

The Internet is a medium through which a large amount of information circulates that lacks quality standards. Social networks offer more content, more thematic diversity and more points of view, but also more misinformation. In fact, an research carried out by ScienceFlows revealed how the population considers that influencers and celebrities are the ones that have the greatest influence on food decisions, above family members, acquaintances or even professionals. In this situation, distrust of social networks grows, so a very useful method for dissemination would be lost. Thus, with the aim of providing the population with the necessary tools to differentiate information based on scientific evidence from hoaxes, the ScienceFlows team devised an informative manual and informative videos in which experts from different fields address nutrition and food issues.

The case of social networks is important because, according to data from the 2022 Annual Study of social networks by the consulting firm Epsilon Technologies, 46% of users recognise that social networks influence them in the processes of purchasing food products and even for 20% are one more purchase channel. 88% of the population between 12 and 70 years of age access social networks, and between 18 and 24 years of age, the percentage reaches 93%. Therefore, the scope of these social media stands out.

CADENUSA research

In addition to the information campaign, ScienceFlows has also launched a survey aimed at finding out how the population is informed about food and nutrition with the aim of finding out which are the main sources of information on food and nutrition used by the general population, as well as information verification techniques. The results of the study will be presented over the next year and can be downloaded through the research team’s website (ScienceFlows).

ESMODA-ECO project

The CADENUSA project arose from This project, underway since 2019, is aimed at studying fashions in food through the communicative ecosystem in Spain.

CADENUSA is aligned with goal 3 "Ensure a healthy life and promote well-being for all ages" of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals. This campaign has had the support of the UNESCO Chair Scholarships of the University of Valencia for aid for Education for Development, Global Citizenship and Awareness actions for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Link to the Manual de buenas prácticas sobre comunicación de la alimentación y de la seguridad alimentaria: https://roderic.uv.es/handle/1­0550/83636