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Effectiveness of Social Media-based Interventions on Weight-related Behaviors and Body Weight Status: Review and Meta-analysis

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Objectives: We reviewed scientific literature regarding the effectiveness of social media-based interventions about weight-related behaviors and body weight status. Methods: A keyword search were performed in May 2017 in the, Cochrane Library, PsycINFO, PubMed, and Web of Science databases. We conducted a meta-analysis to estimate the pooled effect size of social media-based interventions on weight-related outcome measures. Results: We identified 22 interventions from the keyword and reference search, including 12 randomized controlled trials, 6 pre-post studies and 3 cohort studies conducted in 9 countries during 2010-2016. The majority (N = 17) used Facebook, followed by Twitter (N = 4) and Instagram (N = 1). Intervention durations averaged 17.8 weeks with a mean sample size of 69. The meta-analysis showed that social media-based interventions were associated with a statistically significant, but clinically modest reduction of body weight by 1.01 kg, body mass index by 0.92 kg/m2, and waist circumstance by 2.65 cm, and an increase of daily number of steps taken by 1530. In the meta-regression there was no doseresponse effect with respect to intervention duration. Conclusions: The boom of social media provides an unprecedented opportunity to implement health promotion programs. Future interventions should make efforts to improve intervention scalability and effectiveness.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, College of Applied Health Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL, Urbana-Champaign, IL;, Email: [email protected] 2: Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, College of Applied Health Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL, Urbana-Champaign, IL 3: School of Sports Journalism and Foreign Studies, Shanghai University of Sport, Shanghai, China

Publication date: November 1, 2017

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  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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