Social Media and Weight Loss

Like I said in my last post, there’s an app for everything. There are also a vast number of social media outlets just waiting to be used. However, these outlets can both negatively and positively impact our waistline.

In fact, the internet might actually be making you gain weight. Men’s Fitness is an advocate for getting off Facebook and Twitter and actually getting some physical activity in. An article by Men’s Fitness details how research was recently conducted on 350 college students regarding their physical activity and use of social media. It was found that more time spent on Facebook and Twitter was correlated with weight gain. Now, make sure to realize that studies that show a correlation do NOT show cause and effect.  Instead, they show that some connections can be made between the two items that are being studied.

However, that was just one study and though excess time spent online can make your pants fit a little tighter, social media can actually aid in weight loss. A study conducted by the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health examined the use of Twitter as a weight loss tool.  It was a relatively small study of only already extremely overweight or obese men and women. The results showed that every 10 posts to Twitter corresponded to a 0.5 percent weight loss.  However, it is important to note here that half of the participants used a diet-monitoring app in addition to Twitter. This diet-monitoring app could have had a large impact as well; however, the Fox News article makes no mention of its potential influence. The other half of the group only received biweekly podcasts on nutrition, exercise and goal setting.  Without the results of how much influence the diet-monitoring app had, it is impossible to say conclusively that Twitter had a positive impact. It seems though that by using Twitter to keep oneself and one’s friends accountable and being able to provide and receive support, weight was lost much easier.

If you had to ask me, social media is a great tool for weight loss and healthy living. Apps like My Fitness Pal and specific boards for health food on Pinterest provide us with an unlimited amount of information to help with weight loss. Finally, because I could not say it any better, here are a few advantages and disadvantages from Weigh It Up of using social media and the Internet as weight loss aids.

Advantages

  • A dieter can access the online information and forums whenever they desire, rather than being restricted to clinic appointment times.
  • Reading others’ success stories can be motivating.
  • Online communication can be effective (in the short term and in certain contexts) for those with social anxiety or body consciousness issues because they can avoid fact to face contact.

Disadvantages

  • If you want to just “log off” and not be accountable for your weight loss behaviors, you can.
  • When you are reading and writing on the computer you are sedentary.
  • Avoidance becomes easy. You don’t have to turn the computer on but if you have paid for an appointment with a professional you are more likely to attend.