Can Social Media Help You Lose Weight?

It can be a struggle to lose weight even with a healthy diet and proper exercise. People try all types of tricks to drop pounds, and they often fail. But researchers have found one way that helps people stick to their weight goals: talk about them on social media.

“Our research finds that individuals are more likely to realize success with personal goals when they make a public commitment to attaining them,” noted Tonya Williams Bradford, co-author of the University of California, Irvine, a study titled “Weight Loss Through Virtual Support Communities: A Role for Identity-based Motivation in Public Commitment.”

Researchers found that online support communities are very helpful for people who want to drop pounds. They are very accessible and offer anonymity, flexibility, and other benefits, according to the International Business Times.

“By sharing success and setbacks in virtual support communities on social media, we found people are achieving better results. This works especially well with goals like weight loss, where before and after images can be shared online with other community members,” Bradford added.

Researchers examined people who lost weight surgically and non-surgically over the course of four years. Each used virtual support communities such as WeightWatchers.com and ObesityHelp.com to stick to their objectives.

“Through our research, we found public commitment, which is a declaration of a position, increases the likelihood of compliance to a course of action and is a key part of a successful weight loss plan,” Bradford said.

These online communities offer support and help keep users motivated. According to the study: “Research finds that individuals are more likely to achieve success with such goals when they make a public commitment to achieving them…More specifically, we find these online communities make salient a context relevant social identity which motivates behaviours that facilitate compliance to the public commitment, and hence, more effective goal pursuit.”

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