In addition to scientific definitions of health, social knowledge also has an influence on what is commonly understood by “health”. The public discourse is increasingly characterized by content from social media, which have become an integral part of everyday life of many people.
This paper analyzes the different constructions of health using the example of German “fitness” and “body positive” posts on Instagram. The aim is a critical examination of the contents of social media to derive recommendations for health communication by experts.
A sample of 600 Instagram posts were drawn for a quantitative evaluation using the statistics and analysis software “SPSS”. Of these, 59 posts were evaluated with the qualitative content analysis by Mayring (2015). The hashtags “#FitfamGermany” and “#NotHeidisGirl” were used for the evaluation of German posts.
Results and conclusions
The fitness posts often exaggerate scientific norms of health and claim for strict gender-specific body norms. Body-positive posts, on the other hand, place well-being at the centre of their understanding of health and propagate self-acceptance instead of perfectionism. To counteract body dissatisfaction, depression and eating disorders, health communication must focus more on diversity and accept individual needs and priorities.