Change Your Diet, Cure Your Illness: The Content and Consequences of Chronic Illness Food Blogs

Gabrielle G. Gonzales


This year, the World Health Organization expects chronic disease to account for 75 percent of all deaths worldwide. The internet is an increasingly popular source of health information for those suffering from chronic illness. Online blogs, numbered at 152 million have become one of the most popular forms of web content. Specifically, healthy food blogs have emerged, enabling experts and non-experts alike to dispense health and diet information to large numbers of people. However, blogging in the social sciences remains an understudied phenomenon. This project studies the messaging of 65 popular chronic illness healthy food blogs and the potential consequences of the messages including the role of race, gender, and socioeconomic status. I find that two narratives persist on the blogs—the failure of western medicine to heal illness and the benefits of altering diet. These narratives result in empowerment through individual agency and community building for the bloggers. The messages on the blogs are also endangering in their individualization of health, side-stepping structural explanations for health. This research demonstrates chronic illness food blogs as sites for examining the dual effect of self-empowerment through health knowledge and the impact of surveillance and policing of their own and others’ bodies.

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