Socialising and making web friends on online weight loss programs might be directly connected to the amount of pounds dropped by participants.
Users loosing weight with the help of an online weight loss program showed better results when they took part in the social group, compared to the more retreated users. The study, proved that the number and type of friends were both just as important.
The more involved in the network they were, the more success they had, explained the senior author of the study, Nunes Amaral. The fact that they had many friends who also had plenty of friends the more implicated in the network they were. On the other hand, having many friends who had only one friend, was not the same.
Researchers have analysed data on over 47,000 unique visitors of the online program in 2009 and 2010. Users self declared their weights, and experts agreed that usually when it comes to this type of online programs, people are mostly sincere on that aspect.
The average age of the participants was around 43 years old and over 80% of them were women. After signing up, only 22,400 persons revisited the program for a second weigh-in, which meant that 40% of people never cam back.
Those returning, 5,400 remained engaged to the program for a duration of at least six months. Around 2,000 individuals established a connection with at least one “friend” from the social network.
The majority of the ones who connected with a friend have clustered in a large group, while the remaining 25% formed small groups of two or four people who had no relationship with the large group. The ones starting with a higher weight, who adopted self observation diaries and who participated in a social networking had results showing larger weight loss.
After six months in the program, participants who were not social networking had lost about 4.1% of their body weight. The ones with a number of friends from two to nine, lost on average 5.2%, those socialising in the large cluster lost 6.8% and those communicating online the most lost 8% of their body weight, reported results noted in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.
Researchers believed that sharing experiences and showing support to one another might be behind the success and people who are tempted by programs as such should take these statistics into consideration.
Enrolling in the online programs costs a monthly or yearly fee. For example a membership for the Calories King weight loss program costs $12 a month or $49 a year.
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