Faculty Mentor

Dr. Julie Williams Merten, Associate Professor

Faculty Mentor Department

Department of Public Health


Apple cider vinegar has shown great promise for weight loss in controlled lab settings, yet these claims are widely shared on social media and may not yield the same benefits. This study used directed content analysis to examine how apple cider vinegar weight loss drinks were portrayed on Pinterest, a social media website utilized to bookmark online content. Using the search terms “apple cider vinegar weight loss drinks,” researchers sampled every fifth pin to collect 200 relevant pins. A codebook was developed, pilot tested and used to code pins. Of the 200 pins, the majority of pins (66%) positively portrayed the effectiveness of apple cider vinegar drinks for weight loss, and 36% contained images of a drink. 60% of pins made weight-loss claims for specific pounds lost; however, most of those pins did not present a particular number of pounds that an individual will lose from drinking apple cider vinegar. Also, a time frame for weight loss promised was only present in 15% of pins. In this sample of pins, 6% of pins had comments. Social media is a powerful source of health information. However, this study demonstrated evidence of the propagation of misleading and potentially dangerous weight loss methods. This study revealed widespread interest and acceptance of insufficient weight loss drink information.