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Social Support

By: Ami Sedani

The Issue

30% of males and 45% of females in the U.S. are attempting to lose weight.

Most individuals attempting to lose weight generally turn to self-help programs including books and manuals, and commercial programs.

Social Support

Studies have shown that group-based weight loss programs with offer social support tend to be more effective than programs in which members participate individually.

Study 1
This study reports the results of a worksite weight loss program which allowed female hospital and nursing home employees to enroll in a worksite weight loss program as individuals or as part of a group.

72 employees participated; 42 in a group and 30 alone

Rigsby, Andrea, Gropper, Daniel, Gropper, Sareen. Eating Behaviors Success of Women in a Worksite Weight Loss Program: Does Being Part of a Group Help? Eating Behaviors 2009; 10:2:128 -130.

Study 1: Results
Group Vs. Individual Participation

Group Results
200 150 100 50 0 Weight BMI Body Fat % Initial Final 200 150 100

Individual Results
Initial Final




Body Fat %

Study 1: Discussion

The greater success of those participating in groups versus individuals is assumed to be attributed to the social support found in group settings.

Social Support

Numerous other studies also conclude that that participating in weight loss programs specifically with friends and/or family greatly improves weight loss results.

Social Support
however, many individuals face the issue of having friends and/or family who do not wish to participate in the program as well or who may altogether discourage their new healthy habits.

Social Support

Therefore, there it is important to create a way to facilitate peer support for these individuals.

The Future
With advances in technology, technology-based interventions have been addressed as a potential method
Benefits of technology-based interventions: Cost effective New opportunities for social support Convenience Expanding geographic distances Anonymity (if desired)

Study 2
To analyze the social support for weight loss as used through an online community.

Surveys: 193; Interviews: 13; Forum Messages: 1924

Hwang, Kevin O, Ottenbacher, Allison J, Green, Angela P, Cannon-Diehl, M Roseann, Richardson, Oneka, Bernstam, Elmer V, Thomas, Eric J. Social Support in an Internet Weight Loss Community. International Jounral of Medical Informatics 2010;79:5-13.

Study 2: Surveys

Online communities are potentially able to benefit members in ways that face-to-face programs cannot

Study 2: Forum Posts

Major Themes: Information Motivation & Encouragement

Subthemes: Testimony Friendly Competition Humor

As of February 2012, approximately 46% of Americans own a smartphone with an average of 22 apps.

Study 3
a structured internet weight loss program produce greater initial weight loss and changes in waist circumferences than a weight loss education Web Site

Tate, Deborah, Wing, Rena, Winett, Richard. Using Internet Technology To Deliver A Behavioral Weight Loss Program. American Medical Association 2001: 295: 9:1172-1177.

Study 3: Baseline

Participants were assigned to a group: Internet behavioral therapy or Internet education. Both groups received access to Internet weight-loss resources; however, the behavioral group also had an online submission diary with a therapists feedback.

Study 3: Results


Social Support is key to facilitate a healthy lifestyle