Using social media may help obese patients lose weight, according to the results of a study published online on September 8, 2014, in Health Affairs.
The systematic review and meta-analysis assessed the results of 12 previous studies that evaluated the effectiveness of using social media in intervention programs among obese patients from the United States, Europe, east Asia, and Australia.
The results of the study indicated that when obese patients used social networking platforms to exchange information with their health care providers, their body mass index significantly decreased by 0.64%.
“The feeling of being part of a community allows patients to draw on the support of their peers as well as clinicians,” lead study author Hutan Ashrafian said in a press release. “They can get advice from their doctor without the inconvenience or cost of having to travel, and clinicians can provide advice to many patients simultaneously.”
The authors of the study suggest that further research is needed to assess the efficacy of social networking obesity interventions.
“Additionally, we recommend that policy makers adopt reforms that promote the use of anti-obesity social networking services, facilitate multistakeholder partnerships in such services, and create a supportive environment to confront obesity and its associated noncommunicable diseases,” they conclude.