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And then there’s the effect of seeing hundreds of perfectly posed social media pictures of beautiful skinny people. Unrealistic expectations can set people up for failure, Brissette says.

“If you find you’re feeling demotivated or you’re feeling down about yourself and you come away from social media feeling anxious, or feeling depressed, then definitely taking breaks and not being on it all the time is a good thing,” she concludes.

One man’s quest

Image copyright Instagram Image caption Joey Morganelli was encouraged by a Reddit community to adopt a new diet

Of course many dieters have one primary concern: results.

“It hurt to walk. I couldn’t do anything a normal 20-year-old was supposed to do.”

Joey Morganelli’s weight had hit more than 28 stone (400 pounds, or 180kg). Morganelli, from Michigan and now 23, started seriously trying to lose weight when he got his first job.

“I basically starved myself because I was so scared to eat. Every time I ate I would actually panic. It sounds silly that eating a cheeseburger causes someone to panic but at the end of the day greasy food was my trigger,” he says.

It wasn’t a good strategy, but he was encouraged by a Reddit community to adopt a new and more sustainable diet.

“It was breathtaking to see the support you get from people that you don’t even know, sometimes that affirmation is more important than even the people closest to you because they don’t have this bias or preconceived notion about you,” he says.

He made progress. But he still struggles with weight fluctuations. And after a long period in which he managed to slim down considerably, social media communities couldn’t help him keep all the weight off. A new job opportunity in May reignited his comfort eating.

“June was when I really started to let myself go just because there was a lot of stress again,” he says, “and my comforting thing in life is food.”

It’s a cautionary tale – Morganelli’s weight increased again, and he’s now at 22.5 stone (315 pounds, or more than 140kg).

Blog by Jonathan Griffin

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BSNtoMSN.org

“Lose together or gain alone” is the motto of one of the social networking sites listed below for weight loss and and/or fitness to gain and maintain that new slim and healthy physique. Many nurses who proceed from the BSN to MSN degree, including those receiving grants and scholarships, will doubtless benefit from knowing about these sites — if not for their own use, then for patients and clients.

In the list that follows, weight-loss-focused sites are followed by fitness/maintenance-focused sites, and listed in alphabetical order within those two categories.

Weight-loss-focused sites:

  1. Budge the Pudge is a site geared predominantly toward women. The site will help you “Lose weight and create a lighter brighter you” with the help of EFT-Emotional Freedom Technique. You can learn about this methodology through seven free audios. Members join to blog their successes.
  2. Diet.com, “your nutrition and health solution,” offers videos about many weight loss, diet, and fitness topics when you visit the site without registration. It is the home of the “Personality Type Diet,” and you can be a free or “premium” member to participate. You also can receive coaching from experts and connect with other dieters via blogs, boards, and groups.
  3. DietTV boasts “Now you can eat anywhere,” and gives tips on eating out, eating frozen foods, etc., as well as offering meal plans and shopping guides for 87 famous diets. There is a monthly fee to personalize your diet progress with the site, but sign-up is free.
  4. Extra Pounds is a social network that offers “Weightloss Support and Motivation” through diet blogs and support groups. Members use weight loss tools and keep a food diary, and can use a Google map to find members located near them.
  5. Fat Secret, “all things food and diet,” is for people who want to achieve their food, diet, and exercise goals. You can connect your FatSecret profile with Facebook, iGoogle, or your cell phone. Fat Secret uses member feedback and experience to find what really works for you.
  6. My Weight Loss Solutions advertises “Real solutions for real people.” Members are given facts and seek solutions; they interact with other members by commenting on articles and business profiles. You must sign in to interact with experts and other weight-losing peers.
  7. NAWLS Network is a social and professional network for the community of weight loss surgery patients and professionals. Members receive daily inspiration, support and friendship and can read member blog posts and access resources.
  8. Sparkpeople has over 8 million members and a book about its secrets called The Spark. “Make Your Life an Adventure,” is the motto. The personalized weight loss and fitness plan is free, as well as all the tools. You can be as solitary or interactive as you want.
  9. The Biggest Loser League is modeled after the TV reality show by the same name; members form teams and cheer each other on to weight loss goals, just as the teams do on the show. NBC offers team challenges and sometimes offers prizes.
  10. The Daily Plate will calculate your calorie goal before you even register at the site. It has a vast library of foods and activities; you can track your calorie intake and burn rate to achieve weight loss goals. This site is sponsored by Livestrong.com.
  11. Weight Circles is a community for learning healthy habits and weight control. You can meet others and share weight loss stories, blog, or ask weight loss questions. Circles can be open — anyone can join — or private. When you create a private circle, you decide who may join.
  12. Weight Loss Bloggers is a community of bloggers who are committed to a healthy lifestyle through good eating habits and physical fitness. You may chat with other bloggers or explore the site’s resources once you register.
  13. Weight Loss Buddy offers a free profile page, free team page, free diet planning and 3D chat. The site features video and audio clips on various weight loss topics, and you can ask experts questions about your weight-loss mission.
  14. Weight Loss Wars suggests that you compete with friends and family or join a public competition to lose weight. Update your goal motivators weekly and track your progress with free tracking tools, where you can record anything from your weight to calories to exercise minutes.
  15. WeighIns is a site where members write reviews and vote on the top diets; links to the diets are provided as well as some discussion about specific diets. Learn more immediately about the top ten diets, or explore other options.
  16. Wellsphere invites members to form groups that learn about different topics such as weight loss and fitness. Ask a health maven a question, read member articles and watch videos.

Fitness-and-Maintenance-Focused Sites

  1. Daily Burn promises that its 300,000+ members lose, on average, 6.2 lbs. of fat or gain 5.75 lbs. of muscle. Track what you eat, record your workouts, and find people to help keep you accountable to your goals.
  2. FitLink is a community for achieving diet and weight loss goals. The “Fit” part gives you tools to get in shape, the “Link” part gives you tools to connect with others. You can connect with workout partners and personal trainers, too.
  3. FitMarker is a Digg-like social website which helps users find the best fitness information from around the web. The site is fully community driven and users can vote up, vote down, comment and share posts on Twitter and Facebook. You can also write your own fitness articles and share it with the community.
  4. iStats is a site for getting motivated by sharing your progress with others. Enter your exercise details, print your program for the next exercise session, review your progress, and share tips and compare results with your friends.
  5. My Fit Tribe calls itself “an island of fun, fitness, and friends.” You can download the site’s “JamCore workout” exercise videos to your iPhone and take them to the gym. Connect with other tribe members, blog, and read articles and health and fitness information.
  6. PEERtrainer can help you lose weight through a “Tip of the Day,” a personal assessment quiz, weight loss support groups, the PEERtrainer “Point of No Return Program,” or a review and overview of popular diets. Read success stories or receive coaching on the site, join groups and teams.
  7. RunningAHEAD is all about “achieving goals through better information.” The site offers free tools for more effective training, emphasizing the training log. You can join in discussion forums or user groups, or share your training data with friends on Facebook through RunningAHEAD’s Facebook application, or use the Handy Runner’s Android application to track running workouts by GPS.
  8. Traineo is a site for help and support to lose weight. You may set a weight loss goal without registering at the site. Traineo offers online weight loss tools and a support network of motivators who may be friends and family or members of the community.
  9. Walkingspree is a site devoted to walking, “the #1 health initiative prescribed by health professionals.” it includes a corporate wellness program, a program for everyone, and a tool: a pedometer, with which you can upload data automatically.

A Mobile Health App for Weight Loss that Incorporates Social Networking

Study Overview

Objective. To test the efficacy of a weight loss app with incorporated social support and self-monitoring of diet, physical activity, and weight compared to a commercially available diet and PA tracking app.

Design. 2-group, randomized controlled trial.

Setting and participants . From October 2014 to January 2015, potential study participants were recruited via university/worksite listserv announcements, flyers, electronic newsletters, newspaper advertisements, social media posts, and a local research fair in 2 cities in South Carolina. Exclusion criteria included body mass index (BMI) outside the range of 25.0 to 49.9 kg/m 2, unable to attend required measurement sessions, unable to access a computer or internet for completing assessments, having a psychiatric illness, receiving treatment for drug or alcohol dependency, having an eating disorder, participating in another weight loss program, reporting weight loss of 10+ pounds in the past 6 months, being pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant during study, or breastfeeding, or endorsing items on the Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR-Q) regarding having a heart condition, feeling chest pain during physical activity, experiencing chest pain, becoming dizzy/ever losing balance or consciousness, and not having a physician give consent to participate despite reporting joint problems or taking blood pressure medication. Those who were eligible were invited to an orientation to the study, signed consent, and completed baseline assessments.

Intervention. Participants were randomized to either the experimental group (theory-based podcasts plus the Social POD app) or the comparison group (theory-based podcasts plus a standard app ). Both groups attended a training session on how to access the podcasts and download and use their app, and also had their baseline height and weight taken by study staff. Both groups received 2 podcasts per week, tracked their diet, weight, and physical activity, completed weekly surveys to report use of their assigned tracking app, and had their weight measures taken after 3 months. Objective measures of podcast usage and app usage were collected by study staff (experimental group only).

Both apps had diet and physical activity tracking features, but the Social POD app also included notifications to track diet and physical activity, messages sent from frequent app users to re-engage infrequent app users, a newsfeed to view other participants app tracking activity, stars awarded to frequent users of the app, points awarded for tracking, and prizes for earning points distributed at the final session by study staff. The Fat Secret app did not have any social support components but included a recipe database for looking up recipes by category.

Main outcome measures. The primary outcome was between-group differences in kilograms lost at 3 months. Secondary outcomes included group change in BMI after 3 months, as well as group differences in self-reported caloric intake, caloric expenditure, social support, self-efficacy, and outcome expectations scores, controlled for baseline measures.

Main results . Of the potential participants that inquired about the study ( n = 189), those found to be eligible ( n = 78) were invited to an orientation. Of those that attended the orientation ( n = 62), 51 were randomized after completing baseline assessments ( n = 25 to experimental group with Social POD app, n = 25 to comparison group with Fat Secret app), and 42 completed final weight measurements after 3 months. Participants were mostly white (57%) females (82%) with a mean BMI of 34.7 ± 6.0 kg/m 2 and mean age of 46.2 ± 12.4 years. Baseline characteristics were similar between groups except that more comparison group participants reported previously downloading an app to track their diet than experimental participants. Participation attrition was 12% ( n = 3 in each group).

Conclusions. An intervention with theory-based podcasts, social support, and incentivized self-monitoring resulted in significantly greater weight loss than a comparison intervention with theory-based podcasts and a commercially available standard self-monitoring app. This study highlights key features to add to mobile health interventions for adult weight loss.

Commentary

Obesity prevalence rates have increased over the past several decades across all genders, ages, ethnicities, income levels, and education levels , and recent data show that over one-third of adults in the US are obese and over two-thirds are overweight . Behavior or lifestyle modification, which incorporates (often tailored) diet, physical activity, and behavior therapy, is highly recommended as the first strategy for losing initial weight and sustaining weight management efforts . Mobile health (mHealth) technologies and other web-based and technology-assisted approaches (eg, mobile applications or “apps”) to facilitate behavior change for weight loss and management have aimed to address many of the limitations posed by traditional face-to-face weight loss approaches . Prevailing theories of health behavior change imply key intervention design features that may increase their likelihood of promoting and sustaining desired behavior changes, particularly those that impact self-efficacy, self-regulation, and social facilitation .

Despite the plethora of weight loss mobile apps available to the public, it remains unclear if these are guided by evidence-based behavior change strategies typically used in traditional programs and approaches . Further, very few of these apps have been rigorously evaluated with scientific testing to determine true effectiveness and safety . This study adds to the literature by evaluating a mobile app for weight loss (Social POD) that was developed by researchers and utilizes theory-based components to target specific constructs that lead to health behavior change. Additionally, while self-monitoring is commonly incorporated into most available weight loss/management apps , the Social POD mobile app also incorporates social support and motivational strategies, which are less often included. The findings from this study add to the limited literature that mobile phone app-based interventions may be useful tools for weight loss .

The authors outlined several strengths and limitations. Briefly, this study was particularly strengthened by its randomized assignment to equivalent intervention groups, the use of a researcher-developed experimental group app that targets several key theory-based constructs for behavior change, measurement of objective use of the intervention group app, a racially diverse sample (over one-third of participants in both groups identified as black), measurement of secondary psycho-social behavioral outcomes, significant efforts to ensure survey completion and compliance with the intervention (increase retention), as well efforts to decrease participation burden by limiting required in-person sessions.

However, several important aspects of the study limit the internal validity and generalizability of its findings. The study had a small sample size and included a highly educated study population. If possible, future studies should consider including a large, diverse population to enhance generalizability. Also, this study was limited to those with an Android device, and significant demographic differences between Android and iPhone users have been reported . The comparison group reported significantly more prior downloading of a diet-tracking app compared to the experimental group, which may have impacted use of the comparison app. The extrinsic reward system built into the experimental group intervention could have impacted adherence to experimental app, and is likely not feasible in real-world application of the experimental group app. Findings may have been subject to recall bias and measurement error due to self-reporting of outcomes measures. Importantly, this was a short-term weight loss study, and long-term weight loss/maintenance data is needed to support findings since in the usual course of weight-loss therapy the greatest weight loss occurs within 6 months of treatment, after which weight is often regained, sometimes near original level .

Applications for Clinical Practice

With the increasing popularity of technology-assisted and mHealth applications for weight loss and other health behaviors, it is important for practitioners to be familiar with proven, theory-based approaches and advise patients accordingly. This study demonstrated that social support components added to self-monitoring components in a weight loss app can lead to significant weight loss compared to self-monitoring alone. Thus, those that offer obesity counseling should be mindful that tracking and controlling dietary and physical activity behaviors alone may not prove to be successful. Opportunities for social facilitation to support weight loss efforts should be discussed with patients, including sources of social influence, support and collaboration between individuals, families, and health care professionals.

—Katrina F. Mateo, MPH

What You Should Post On Social Media If You Want to Lose Weight

Tweet happy thoughts: People who expressed positive sentiments on Twitter were more likely to reach their diet goals, according to a Georgia Institute of Technology study.

Researchers analyzed about 700 people who used MyFitnessPal (an app that allows you to track your diet and exercise, and connects to your social media accounts so you can seamlessly share your progress with friends). The goal was to look at the relationship between people’s tweets and whether or not they were reaching the calorie goals they set on the app. And as it turns out, positive tweets were linked with diet success.

Not all the tweets analyzed in the study had to do with fitness and dieting, necessarily. Some tweets showed a generally positive outlook on life with hashtags like #blessed and #enjoythemoment. People who tweeted about their fitness accomplishments also had an edge over those who didn’t. And, no, these people weren’t just crushing personal records in the gym and losing a ton of weight and bragging about it online. These kinds of tweets cited in the study didn’t have a gloating tone, but instead, one that exuded motivation. For example, one tweet read, “I will stick to my fitness plan. It will be difficult. It will take time. It is going to require sacrifice. But it will be worth it.”

The study serves as an example of how social media can be used to reach any health, fitness, or weight-loss goal. While it’s true that social media has been linked to depression and anxiety and can lead to an unhealthy body image it also brings people together and provides a support system. (Just look at our Goal Crushers Facebook page, a community of members with health, diet, and wellness goals who lift each other up during struggles and celebrate each others’ achievements.) And posting images or status updates on social media can also serve as an easy way to hold yourself accountable for your actions-in this case, living up to the healthy eating or exercise expectations you set for yourself.

Social media can certainly be used as a tool for weight loss (when used the right way), so if you’re struggling to reach your New Year’s goal or simply stick to it at all, consider posting about your journey on social media-every positive tweet counts.

  • By By Renee Cherry

How Social Media Can Help You Lose Weight

The success or failure of your ability to lose weight has nothing to do with carbohydrates and protein. It has to do with how you live your life. Change your life and you will change your weight. In this post I focus on your social life as one part of your life that can be enhanced in order to increase your chances at weight loss success.

Why social life? The support and influence we experience from other people has a tremendous impact on our lifestyles and our weight. A landmark study by Christakis and Fowler (2007) at Harvard University showed that obesity is “socially contagious” meaning that we are more likely to be obese if our family and friends are obese. Not only do we share habits but we subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) reinforce each other’s habits. To the extent that you are locked in a social circle that strongly reinforces unhealthy habits, you will have great difficulty consistently living a healthy lifestyle. You can’t fire your spouse, family and friends. However, you can open yourself up to a new social world, one that has supportive people who will make the difference in your life that you didn’t even know you needed.

First things first…what is social media? Social media is basically communicating with others via the internet and/or mobile technology.

What does social media have to do with weight loss? Social media is a relatively new way of connecting to people. What is powerful about social media is that it is highly conducive to connecting to people based on shared interests and goals. When we make friends in the “real” world the connection is often based on proximity–our friends are people from work, school, or our neighborhood. Social media is free of geographical limitations, making it easy to connect with people based on shared interests. An abundance of online communities and groups exist that are centered around health, nutrition, and fitness. Just think, your best weight loss buddy might be a tax accountant in Dubuque. You never know.

Why should I consider social media to help me lose weight? A major challenge that many of my patients struggle with is that they have few supports in their current social network for their weight loss journey. Their spouse, children, and friends are not on the same path. This can make the whole experience feel lonely and like you’re going against the grain all the time. Studies have shown that how much social support you have is strongly associated with how successful you are at losing weight. If you feel you have very little social support right now, it is time to beef it up. Social media is the easiest and quickest way to do this.

I read a blog post last year by a woman who has been struggling with emotional eating. She described a day where she succumbed to it, complete with her thoughts of dejection and discouragement. So many people relate to that experience. The comments of support flowed in. It was powerful to read, and I bet it was powerful to write. You can use social media to create your very own supportive, inspiring, and motivating network of people who can do just this for you.

How I can use social media to help me create and sustain a healthy lifestyle?

Facebook – You can create a free group/individual or community page on Facebook where you post about your healthy lifestyle journey. Give it a fun name and regularly post links to recipes, websites, articles, pics and videos of interest. Post daily status updates on your progress, exercise for the day, or anything that you like. If people “Like” your page, they will see your updates in their stream. Here is a great example of a Facebook page devoted to one person’s healthy lifestyle journey: http://www.facebook.com/WeightOffMyShouldersBlog If you are concerned about privacy, keep in mind that you are in control. Share what you want to share, nothing more.

Twitter – Get a free Twitter account and tweet about your journey! Afraid nobody is listening? Here is how to instantly create your community: “Follow” all the people on my Healthy List. This is a carefully selected group of people and organizations that provide support, information, advice, and interactions around healthy lifestyle. . To find the list, go to @DrSherryPagoto on Twitter, open my profile, and find the option called Lists. Click on Lists and find my list called The Healthy List. Click on “Follow this List.”

Once you are on Twitter, be active! Tweet every day about your workouts, recommend healthy recipes, join fitness challenges (see PlankADay for an example) or just tweet your thoughts about your journey that day. Interact with other tweeters too, congratulate them on their successes, comment on their tweets, and don’t be shy! I guarantee within a few weeks you will have some regular Twitter weight loss buddies.

Blogs – A blog is an online journal that is viewable to the public. Go to www.blogger.com to set one up (for free!), then compose and post entries about your process. What to write? Anything you want. Tweet and/or post your blog entries on your Facebook page to share them with others. This is a great way to engage others in your journey. Why blog? For yourself. Do it to express your thoughts, challenges and/or lessons learned. It can take a while but over time you will get readers and commenters. Here are a few awesome blogs to check out to give you an idea: http://the-running-mom.com/ , http://letstalkandwalk.com/ , and http://www.whoatemyblog.com/.

Mobile apps with a social networking function – If you don’t yet have a mobile phone, health mobile applications are a great reason to get one, even if it is your only reason to get one. A number of mobile apps for fitness and/or weight loss have a social networking function where you can follow other users. If you have a friend that you wish you could exercise with but can’t, make a deal that you both start using one of these apps and follow each other’s progress. You can set up a function on many of these apps to post updates of your progress on Facebook and Twitter. My Fitness Pal and Lose it! are highly recommended.

Online communities – Sparkpeople, Weight Watchers, and Livestrong are three websites that have online communities (i.e., discussion boards) in which you can interact with other people trying to lose weight. Check out these websites and start interacting in the communities.

If you are missing a strong social support system for your weight loss effort, consider that this may be holding you back from success more than you think. Instead of giving the next trendy diet a try, consider taking your weight loss journey into cyberspace. Success may be just a few follows, friends, and likes away. I’ll see you online!

Social media influencers are dishing out false nutrition and weight loss advice 90% of the time

  • Almost 90% of social media influencers are sharing inaccurate health information, according to a new study.
  • Researchers examined nine of the UK’s biggest influencers in the health world and found that the majority are presenting opinion as fact.
  • Experts say this is “potentially harmful,” due to the influencers’ reach.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.

People who wish to lose weight have been warned to stay away from social media influencers who claim to have the latest diet fix, researchers say.

A study by a team at University of Glasgow found that just one out of nine leading UK bloggers making weight management claims actually provided accurate and trustworthy information.

The health researchers studied the country’s most popular influencers, based on those who had more than 80,000 followers on at least one social media site, verification from at least two sites such as Twitter, and who had an active weight management blog.

Lead author Christina Sabbagh said: “We found that the majority of the blogs could not be considered credible sources of weight management information, as they often presented opinion as fact and failed to meet UK nutritional criteria.

“This is potentially harmful, as these blogs reach such a wide audience.”

Although the social media stars were not named in the study, blogs by nine top influencers published between May and June 2018 were analysed and scored against 12 criteria to demonstrate credibility.

Read more: Instagram posts encouraging eating disorders are ‘spiralling out of control,’ psychiatrists warn

The university team examined whether the health and diet claims made by influencers were transparent, trustworthy, nutritionally sound, and included evidence-based references. They also looked at the role of bias in what was put online.

Influencers were regarded as having “passed” the test if they met 70% or more of the criteria. Researchers also examined the latest 10 meal recipes from each blog for energy content, carbohydrates, protein, fat, saturated fat, fibre, sugar, and salt content.

The findings — presented at this year’s European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Glasgow — showed that a majority of bloggers failed in fundamental areas.

Five of them presented opinion as fact or failed to provide evidence-based references for nutritional claims. Five failed to provide a disclaimer and, when meals were examined against Public Health England calorie targets and traffic light criteria, no blogger met these criteria.

Of the advice-based blogs, only one by a registered nutritionist with a degree passed overall, with 75%. The lowest compliance, 25%, was from an influencer without any nutritional qualifications.

Read more: An Instagram travel couple with nearly 500,000 followers shared what their photos look like before and after editing

The authors concluded: “Social media influencers’ blogs are not credible resources for weight management. Popularity and impact of social media in the context of the obesity epidemic suggests all influencers should be required to meet accepted scientifically or medically justified criteria for the provision of weight management advice online.”

Tam Fry, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, said: “This study adds to the evidence of the destructive power of social media. Any Tom, Dick or Harry can take to the ether, post whatever they like and be believed by their followers.

“Particularly unfortunate is that the genie is now firmly out of the bottle and getting these bloggers to conform to standards, though desirable, will be nigh impossible.

“The bloggers will defend their right to freedom of speech to the hilt but publishing junk advice is indefensible.”

Weight loss social networks

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