Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snap Chat – the future of weight loss?

April 5, 2016

In response to

Dahl, A. A., Hales, S. B., & Turner-McGrievy, G. M. (2016). Integrating social media into weight loss interventions. Current Opinion in Psychology, 9, 11-15.

 

We live in a generation where Millennials will soon surpass the Baby Boomers in our world. This generation is all about technology, sociability, desirability, and image, and a large reason for the advancement in social media platforms. There are more and more apps for mobile phone use coming out and being published every year. With this, exposure of oneself or the sharing of personal beliefs and information via these social media platforms is something that has expanded over the past 10 years.  Specifically, in the area of health and fitness, there have been developments to reach more people and minimize cost. Could social media really be the future of health promotion and positive behavior changes such as weight loss?

 

A recent review article was published on the integration of social media in weight loss interventions, and it described the current status of it, as well as its future (Dahl, A., Hales, S, & Turner-McGrievy, G., 2016). The article discusses how there have been effective weight loss interventions that utilize social media in conjunction with other delivery methods (Dahl, A., 2016). However, there have been no studies to date that have utilized social media as an exclusive delivery and intervention method.  The influence on body image is discussed in the article as it influences our social norms and comparison among others both positively and negatively. It also discusses the need for social support and approval on social media. From the review it seems to suggest that social support from a specific weight loss community is the most successful on influencing behavior change. However, effectiveness and maintenance of social media on weight loss has not been studied.

 

This is an interesting concept to me personally because, as the article mentions, there are many negative outcomes to social media, particularly with body image. As a female, social media is and has been something that has definitely impacted me my whole life, even in a somewhat subliminal or unconscious way. When discussing this with my colleagues, they agreed as well.  Information should be more holistic health related and not “body shaming”. Although images on social media are often skewed, it still influences our behaviors and our personal beliefs of our self.  Is there really even a way that social comparison could be used in a positive way to affect weight loss? How should these messages be framed and who is qualified to give these interventions?

 

In our conversation on this topic we also discussed how there seems to be a movement towards acceptance of obesity and being overweight (ie. accepting your body as it is), and not on actually being healthy and building healthy habits.  I believe that more information and promotional material on social media should be aimed at developing lifelong healthy habits from qualified and educated professionals. If that is possible through an intervention exclusively using social media, I am unsure. 

 

What do you think?

- Anna Taggart

 

 

 

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