Online dieters who make more 'connections' lose more weight

A new study has recently revealed that people who make more connections while using an online weight management program lose around more than 8 percent of their body weight in six months.

ANI| Updated: Jan 29, 2015, 12:50 PM IST

Washington: A new study has recently revealed that people who make more connections while using an online weight management program lose around more than 8 percent of their body weight in six months.

The Northwestern University study shows that online dieters with high social embeddedness, who logged in regularly, recorded their weigh-ins and "friended" other members can do very well at losing weight with minimal professional help.

The scientists found that users who did not connect with others lost about 5 percent of their body weight over six months, those with a few friends (two to nine) lost almost 7 percent and those with more than ten friends lost more than 8 percent.

Bonnie Spring, an author of the study and professor in preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine said that the gold standard for weight loss is intensive lifestyle treatment involving a minimum of 16 60-to-90 minute individual or group treatment sessions covering diet, physical activity, and behavior change and those who regularly track their progress, known as self-monitoring, lose more weight in clinical studies.

This study found that self-monitoring was associated with greater weight loss, too, but Spring was surprised that even greater weight loss was associated with being highly embedded in a network of other people trying to lose weight.

For those lacking time or geographic proximity to attend in-person weight loss treatment, an online weight loss program seems to be a good alternative, particularly if people take advantage of the self-monitoring and social networking features.

The study is published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.