Influencing public opinion from corn syrup to obesity: A longitudinal analysis of the references for nutritional entries on Wikipedia

Marcus Messner, Marcia W. DiStaso, Yan Jin, Shana Meganck, Scott Sherman, Sally Norton


The collaboratively edited online encyclopedia Wikipedia has continuously increased its reliability through a revised editing and referencing process. As the public increasingly turns to online resources for health information, this study analyzed the development of the referencing as the basis for Wikipedia content on nutritional health topics over five years. The study found that Wikipedia articles on nine selected nutrition topics do not only consistently rank among the top search results in major search engines, but have also been heavily edited and revised over time. A longitudinal content analysis of more than 3,000 references showed that the articles are greatly relying on academic publications as the sources for their information on nutrition, stressing the improved reliability of Wikipedia content.


Wikipedia, Nutrition, References, Health, Communication

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