140 Characters To Skinny: Social Support Provided By Commercial Weight-Loss Programs Via Twitter
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The recent rise of obesity and at-risk weight in the United States is a major epidemic that has yet to be resolved. There are many approaches to addressing weight management and for many, public ...
The recent rise of obesity and at-risk weight in the United States is a major epidemic that has yet to be resolved. There are many approaches to addressing weight management and for many, public health campaigns have not supported lasting behavioral change. Some have looked to the online scale and contracted the support services of popular commercial weight-loss programs for help attaining an ideal weight. Commercial diet and weight-loss programs such as Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig have integrated new media into their communication strategy. This study focuses on how commercial weight-loss programs use Twitter to facilitate support. This study seeks to better understand how three major commercial weight-loss programs use Twitter as a starting point for future research discovering industry best practices. Through analysis using an adapted version of the Social Support Behavioral Codes (SSBC) - originally employed by Curtron’s and Surh (1992) – this study was able to make sense of commercial weight-loss program Twitter use. The results of a content analysis of program tweets (n=1,172) show potential for Twitter to be a valuable tool when integrated into health campaigns. Results also show that commercial weight-loss programs were able to provide all five major themes of support described in the SSBC.
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