Social Media and Obesity in Adults: a Review of Recent Research and Future Directions

  • Molly E. Waring
  • Danielle E. Jake-Schoffman
  • Marta M. Holovatska
  • Claudia Mejia
  • Jamasia C. Williams
  • Sherry L. Pagoto
Obesity (J McCaffery, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Obesity


Purpose of Review

Social media is widely used and has potential to connect adults with obesity with information and social support for weight loss and to deliver lifestyle interventions. The purpose of this review is to summarize recent observational and intervention research on social media and obesity.

Recent Findings

Online patient communities for weight loss abound but may include misinformation. Systematic reviews and meta-analyses suggest that social media-delivered lifestyle interventions modestly impact weight, yet how social media was used and participant engagement varies widely.


The rapidly changing social media landscape poses challenges for patients, clinicians, and researchers. Research is needed on how patients can establish supportive communities for weight loss and the role of clinicians in these communities. Emerging research on meaningful engagement in, and the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of, social media-delivered lifestyle interventions should provide insights into how to leverage social media to address the obesity epidemic.


Obesity Weight loss Social media Social networking Facebook Twitter 


Funding Information

Partial support provided by NIH grants K24HL124366 (SLP) and R25CA172009 (DJS).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Molly E. Waring, Danielle E. Jake-Schoffman, Marta M. Holovatska, Claudia Mejia, and Jamasia C. Williams declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Sherry L. Pagoto reports personal fees from Fitbit.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

All reported studies/experiments with human or animal subjects performed by the authors have been previously published and complied with all applicable ethical standards (including the Helsinki declaration and its amendments, institutional/national research committee standards, and international/national/institutional guidelines).


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Molly E. Waring
    • 1
  • Danielle E. Jake-Schoffman
    • 2
  • Marta M. Holovatska
    • 1
  • Claudia Mejia
    • 1
  • Jamasia C. Williams
    • 3
  • Sherry L. Pagoto
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Allied Health SciencesUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA
  2. 2.Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine, Department of MedicineUniversity of Massachusetts Medical SchoolWorcesterUSA
  3. 3.Department of Psychological SciencesUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA

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