Translational Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 287–294

Weight loss social support in 140 characters or less: use of an online social network in a remotely delivered weight loss intervention


    • Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, Arnold School of Public HealthUniversity of South Carolina
  • Deborah F Tate
    • Department of Nutrition, Gillings School of Global Public HealthUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    • Department of Health Behavior and Education, Gillings School of Global Public HealthUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Original Research

DOI: 10.1007/s13142-012-0183-y

Cite this article as:
Turner-McGrievy, G.M. & Tate, D.F. Behav. Med. Pract. Policy Res. (2013) 3: 287. doi:10.1007/s13142-012-0183-y


Little is known about how online social networking can help enhance weight loss. To examine the types of online social support utilized in a behavioral weight loss intervention and relationship of posting and weight loss. A sub-analysis of the content and number of posts to Twitter among participants (n = 47) randomized to a mobile, social network arm as part of a 6-month trial among overweight adults, examining weight loss, use of Twitter, and type of social support (informational, tangible assistance, esteem, network, and emotional support). A number of Twitter posts were related to % weight loss at 6 months (p < 0.001). Initial reported weight loss predicted engagement with Twitter (p < 0.01) but prior Twitter use or initial Twitter engagement did not. Most Twitter posts (total posts n = 2,630) were Informational support (n = 1,981; 75 %), with the predominant subtype of Teaching (n = 1,632; 62 %), mainly in the form of a status update (n = 1,319). Engagement with Twitter was related to weight loss and participants mainly used Twitter to provide Information support to one another through status updates.


Social supportWeight lossSocial mediaeHealthMobile health

Copyright information

© Society of Behavioral Medicine 2012