What's the Most Tweeted Word?No, It's Not "Sex"

Quick.  What's the one word tweeted most?  No, it's not sex.  Or Hillary.  Or Trump.  It's a food.  And it's "coffee", followed by "pizza," then "beer."

Besides hinting at which foods are popular, tweets may reveal something about our health, according to newswise.com. Communities that expressed positive sentiments about healthy foods were more likely to be healthier overall.

Scientists at the University of Utah surveyed nearly 80 million Twitter messages - a random sample of one percent of publicly available, geo-tagged tweets - over the course of one year. They then sorted through the 4 million tweets about food for ones that fell on opposite ends of the health spectrum: tweets mentioning fast food restaurants, or lean meats, fruits, veggies or nuts.

Out of that top 10 list, only the fourth most popular food-related item, "Starbucks", fit into the fast food category. The seventh, "chicken", was the only one considered as healthy food.

Hmm.  Wonder why, one in three obese people in America.

But the real insights came after cross-referencing the two types of food tweets with information about the neighborhoods they came from, including census data and health surveys. They found, for instance, that tweets from poor neighborhoods, and regions with large households, were less likely to mention healthy foods. Also, people in areas dense with fast food restaurants tweeted more often about fast food.

Twitter has already been used to track health by gauging the prevalence of smoking and finding the source of outbreaks. The difference here is that these types of comparisons could provide clues as to how our surrounding neighborhood - the environment that we live, work, and play in - impacts our health and well-being.

There's evidence that tweets are more than just small talk. Some types track with a community's overall health. Areas with more chatter about walking, dancing, running and other physical activities had fewer deaths and lower rates of obesity. Positive sentiments towards healthy foods were also broadly related to fewer deaths and lower rates of chronic health conditions. However, unexpectedly, fast food tweets did not track with measures of community health.

Now, come on.  What if people are just tweeting about where they're going to have lunch?  (And it's McDonald's, five times a week?!)

OK, so it's not 100% legit.  But experts feel it could be a good way to track the health of a community -- and offer better solutions.


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