- Instagram revokes Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro’s verified status 3 Months Ago
- Transgender people suffer when debates over their rights are framed as ‘distractions’ 3 Months Ago
- Hulu with Live TV just hiked its prices Today 4:05 PM
- Hacker infiltrates Nest cameras to gain PewDiePie subscribers Today 2:37 PM
- YouTube time traveler claims MLK’s granddaughter will be the last U.S. president Today 2:30 PM
- Media coverage of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Twitch cameo erases Chelsea Manning Today 1:39 PM
- New Alexa skill lets you sing with Queen’s Freddie Mercury Today 1:13 PM
- Netflix is the first streaming platform to join MPAA Today 12:59 PM
- Can you spot an email from a hacker? Today 12:46 PM
- Gina Rodriguez cries over being called anti-Black, gets dragged for ‘fake tears’ Today 12:21 PM
- Boots Riley explains why he got snubbed by the Oscars Today 12:20 PM
- Review: ‘Buffy’ returns with a modern comic book reboot Today 11:47 AM
- You’re about to see a lot more Netflix on your Instagram Today 11:32 AM
- Covington students defend blackface video as ‘school spirit’ Today 11:30 AM
- This YouTuber reportedly filmed himself abusing his cat—and his channel is still active Today 11:18 AM
Sure, let’s hear them out.
Amid perilous future job security, climate change, and—in the U.S. anyway—the constant threat of school shootings, youths today have plenty to worry about. Now researchers are warning that food memes, of all things, could be making teenagers fat.
Yes, one of the only ways teens can distract themselves from all of the awful stuff is supposedly contributing to a teenage obesity crisis, according to U.K. researchers who submitted their findings to a British parliamentary committee.
Researchers from Loughborough University suggested that memes are sending teens dangerous messages by joking about unhealthy eating habits. It’s worth noting that food or health memes make up only a very small percentage of memes. But sure, let’s hear them out:
“A substantial number of individuals on Twitter share health-related Internet memes, with both positive and negative messages,” they wrote, noting that many “contain inappropriate material.”
OK, I mean, welcome to the internet. Anyway.
The research also points out that teens “display little, if any, emotion when sharing these memes,” which is probably because they’re teens.
As for examples of memes sending dangerous obesity vibes, the findings specifically point to the Lu Hao, or “Fat Asian Kid” meme, and—no joke—a meme that “created a human-like body from pictures of pizzas and hamburgers, with frankfurters used for limbs and a smiley-faced potato for a face.” The junk food body is captioned “me” in contrast to three normal looking bodies.
It’s true that teens are very easily influenced, which is why we have more than a passing familiarity with phrases like “butt chugging” and the Tide Pod Challenge in 2018. Still, it’s hard to imagine teens are going to overindulge because they see a crude human shape cobbled together with hamburgers and hot dogs. Per CNN:
“Internet memes are generally viewed as entertaining but they also represent a body of cultural practice that does not account for the specific needs and rights of teenagers,” the researchers warned.
“Unhealthy lifestyles cost the NHS billions every year,” they added, suggesting that “the dangers of inaccurate/inappropriate health messages” contained in memes could be a contributing factor.
Food memes could be a “contributing factor” to teenage obesity, but so could sugary snacks and school lunches devoid of nutrition, lack of time for physical activities, and plenty of other conditions. Not to mention, much of how society views and tries to address obesity is just plain wrong.
And heck, kids literally grow up watching a blue monster who’s obsessed with cookies, so if you really want to crack this thing wide open, maybe start at ground zero.
Stacey Ritzen is a reporter and editor based in West Philadelphia with over 10 years' experience covering pop culture, web culture, entertainment, and news. You can follow her on Twitter @staceyritzen.