Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Weekend Herald and Herald on Sunday.

Healthy side to Kiwis' food porn obsession

We are obsessed by food, suggests a new study - but it doesn't make us unhealthy.

A global social media study has analysed "food porn" - the worldwide fad of sharing pictures on Instagram of what we're eating.

And while many around the world publish glamourised images of artery-clogging food, Kiwis are among the most health-conscious countries of the 77 studied.

The Qatar Computing Research Institute found more than a quarter of Kiwi food porn posts featured hashtags related to health and fitness, such as #fitgirl and #eatclean.

My Kitchen Rules NZ judge Ben Bayly believed Kiwis were becoming more sophisticated in the kitchen. "We are such a small country that new trends in food tend to spread quickly," Bayly said. "A lot of savvy food industry people are also smart enough to use the food porn hashtag to promote their [wares] to a huge audience."

The Netherlands emerged as the most health-conscious country in the project.

Brazil, Argentina and France were rated the least healthy.

Kiwi technology commentator Peter Griffin believed the study reflected a self-improvement craze belatedly sweeping New Zealand, coupled with the rise of the "whole foods" movement and a new wave of fad diets.

"With lots of new brands on the market, gourmet food services are flourishing and lifestyle media outlets are pumping out photos of delicious-looking foods," he said. "It is no surprise social media is reflecting this."

The results are a "pleasant surprise" to celebrity chef Simon Gault, who is filming a three-part documentary for Prime called Why Are We Fat? "New Zealand is the third most obese country in the world so it is encouraging we are sharing healthy ideas about food," he said.

"Perhaps the message is filtering through that Kiwi eating habits have been too bad for too long, so I applaud those trying to spread a healthier message."

- Herald on Sunday

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