UVM Study: Counting Calories in Your Tweets

Device Measures States Caloric Input vs. Caloric Output

Burlington, Vt. - A team of UVM scientists is working to count how many calories are in a tweet.

The device, called a "Lexicocalorimeter" is an online, interactive instrument. According to the study, it gathers tens of millions of posts from around the country and finds thousands of food words, from apples to ice cream and more. It also finds thousand of activity-related words, such as watching TV, skiing, and even pole dancing.  All of that information is broken down into "caloric input" and "caloric output."

"This can be a powerful public health tool," says Peter Dodds, a scientist at the University of Vermont, who co-led the invention of the new device. "It's a bit like having a satellite image of how people in a state or city are eating and exercising."

The Lexicocalorimeter suggests Vermont consumes more calories, per capita, than the overall average for the U.S. This is because the top word on the food list for the Green Mountain State is bacon. The good news is, Vermont also uses more calories than average, thanks to frequent uses of words like skiing, running, and snowboarding.

Overall, Colorado ranks first in the nation for its caloric balance, while Mississippi comes in last.

The study was published on February 10, in the journal PLOS ONE.

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