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Social Media can Help Tackle Obesity

Update Date: Sep 10, 2014 04:06 PM EDT

If you thought social media could turn you in an obese couch potato, think again. New study shows that it may be able to help to shed a few kilos.

The study done by researchers at the Imperial College in London found that Body Mass Index (BMI), the key indicator of obesity, decreased by the 0.64 in people who used social media services to reduce address their obesity condition. This was shown by analysis of 12 different studies involving participants across the US, Europe, Asia and Australia, The Times of India reported.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that more than one-third of adults in US are obese and suffer from adverse conditions including type 2 diabetes and cancer. Obesity costs an estimated medical $ 147 billion annually.  

The Imperial College study describes the use of social media in providing services where people trying to improve their obesity condition are motivated to adapt certain lifestyle or diet changes from others in their community on platforms like Facebook or Twitter. For instance, some services ask users to take a picture of food and post it, inviting comments which contributes to informed decision making. Drawing support from peers from the community motivates people.

"One advantage of using social media over other methods is that it offers the potential to be much more cost effective and practical for day-to-day use when compared to traditional approaches," lead author of the study Dr Hutan Ashrafian said according to The Hindu.

"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 multi-stakeholder partnerships in such services, and create a supportive environment to confront obesity and associated non-communicable diseases," the authors said in the study

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