News in Brief: October 2014
People can successfully use social media to lose weight, according to a systematic review and meta-analysis conducted at Imperial College London.1 The researchers, headed by surgeon and health policy researcher Hutan Ashrafian, found 12 studies that used social media to deliver weight loss interventions. The programmes included various combinations of access to advice and support from professionals, goal-setting and recording, activity and diet monitoring and peer support.
The meta-analysis found that study participants who used these online programmes reduced their BMI by 0.66% more than participants who did not take part in the programmes.1 The researchers said that this was “a modest but significant decrease.” They speculated that the benefits come from a combination of increased motivation through networking and easy access to information.
In a television interview, Ashrafian said that obesity is a “network disease.” He explained: “Someone who has obesity usually knows someone else who has obesity, and