You know that friend who's constantly posting on Facebook about going for a light 10K, or how annoyed they are at themselves for skipping a workout when you know they've already exercised every day this week? That friend might actually be onto something: recent research shows that participants who use social media saw a small but significant amount of weight loss. This supports a growing number of studies with similar findings, and they all appear to point toward the same conclusion: social media may help you lose weight...if that's something you're into! I personally think you look great.This study, published in Health Affairs, analyzed 12 studies from the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Australia that looked at weight loss in social media users. Researchers found that participants who used social networks decreased their body mass index by 0.64, which might seem pretty small but is a statistically significant amount. According to the lead author of the study, Dr. Hutan Ashrafian, this is because the public nature of social media holds individuals more accountable than if they were to go it alone. The sense of community also allows people to draw strength from others' support. In an interview with NPR, assistant professor at Arizona State University Christopher Wharton points out that traditional weight loss programs only meet once a week, while Twitter and Facebook are available pretty much constantly, as evidenced by the many, many workout selfies on my newsfeed.
It should be noted that social media does not always have a strictly positive influence; Twitter in particular is shown to have a disturbingly high amount of fat-shaming jokes. However, when it comes to weight loss, in most cases the good far outweighs the bad with social media — that same study also found a high number of instances of support, especially from blogs and forums. So basically, go ahead and post that sweaty post-workout selfie, or make that status complaining about having to actually exercise to stay healthy. We're all probably thinking the same thing.
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