Representations of Health and Wellness on Instagram: An Analysis of Posting Behavior of Top-Ranked Health Influencers

Michelle Bak, J. Hunter Priniski, Jessie Chin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


This study aims to investigate the prevalence of Health Influencers’ Instagram content that could lead to negative impacts on mental health and body image. With the collected Instagram posts and associated metadata of top ranked Health Influencers, we performed content analysis on the most used hashtags, an unsupervised topic model to examine the semantic content and coverage of each theme discussed in the corpus, and an analysis on the audience engagement behavior by topics. Content analysis revealed posts composing of four broad themes: Fitness, Wellness, Self-Promotion, and Cosmetics and Appearance. In addition, well-known brands are prevalent among the hashtags suggesting product promotion is central to health content on Instagram. Topic modeling uncovered Health Influencers’ posts as a mixture of content related to health and wellness as well as other potentially problematic topics (e.g., promoting brands that have spread unhealthy body ideals or associating cosmetic products with being healthy, etc.). We also found promotional posts have higher user engagement rates than non-promotional ones, which in part due to the differential incentives of engagement, and bias in health beliefs or algorithms. Current research suggests a large portion of content produced by Health Influencers likely contain factors that induce body dissatisfaction and other related issues among Instagram users.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHCI International 2023 Posters - 25th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, HCII 2023, Proceedings
EditorsConstantine Stephanidis, Margherita Antona, Stavroula Ntoa, Gavriel Salvendy
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)9783031360008
StatePublished - 2023
Event25th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, HCII 2023 - Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: Jul 23 2023Jul 28 2023

Publication series

NameCommunications in Computer and Information Science
Volume1835 CCIS
ISSN (Print)1865-0929
ISSN (Electronic)1865-0937


Conference25th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, HCII 2023


  • Body Image
  • Mental Health
  • Social Media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • General Mathematics


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