Could Twitter Help You Achieve Your Weight-Loss Goals?

Could Twitter Help You Achieve Your Weight-Loss Goals?


Need to lose some holiday pounds? Your odds of beating the battle of the bulge may be better if you’re active in social networking. According to researchers at the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health, dieters who use Twitter are more likely to lose weight. The study, published in “Translational Behavioral Medicine” this week, followed 96 overweight and obese men and women over a six-month period. All participants owned either an iPhone, iPod Touch, Blackberry or an Android-based phone.

Participants were all assigned to watch nutrition and exercise-encouraging podcasts and some were also assigned to take part in enhanced mobile media intervention which included a diet and physical activity-monitoring app and Twitter.

Researchers discovered the methods were effective in producing a 2.7 percent-decrease in body weight over six months, but those who encouraged and supported one another over Twitter were most successful, with every 10 Twitter posts amounting to an additional .5 percent in weight loss.

Traditional behavioral weight loss interventions generally provide social support through weekly, face-to-face group meetings,” lead researcher Brie Truner-McGrievy said. “While we know this is effective, it is costly and can create a high degree of burden on participants,” she said. “Providing group support through online social networks can be a low cost way to reach a large number of people who are interested in achieving a healthy weight.”

Although 75 percent of the Twitter posts were informational—offering new facts or skills pertaining to weight loss—many updates provided emotional support to participants. Over the six-month period, 2,630 Tweets were posted related to the study.

Researchers concluded that additional studies should be conducted to find ways social support may be provided to participants in remotely-delivered weight loss programs in ways that are not only engaging, but also rewarding and useful for a variety of participants.

Samantha Lile


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