Social Networking Strategies That Aim To Reduce Obesity Have Achieved Significant Although Modest Results
Author: Hutan Ashrafian, Tania Toma, Leanne Harling, Karen Kerr, Thanos Athanasiou, Ara Darzi
The global epidemic of obesity continues to escalate. Obesity accounts for an increasing proportion of the international socioeconomic burden of noncommunicable disease. Online social networking services provide an effective medium through which information may be exchanged between obese and overweight patients and their health care providers, potentially contributing to superior weight-loss outcomes. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the role of these services in modifying body mass index (BMI). Our analysis of twelve studies found that interventions using social networking services produced a modest but significant 0.64 percent reduction in BMI from baseline for the 941 people who participated in the studies’ interventions. We recommend that social networking services that target obesity should be the subject of further clinical trials. 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.