A new study by the University of South Carolina may have found a somewhat unorthodox, but effective, way to help you lose weight— talking about it on Twitter.
In new study results announced Monday, researchers at the Arnold School of Public Health found that those who posted to Twitter more often were more likely to lose weight. The results were published Monday in the science journal Translational Behavioral Medicine.
“What we found is the more that people posted to Twitter, the more weight they lost,” lead researcher Brie Turner-McGrievy told South Carolina Radio Network.
The study looked at 47 overweight or obese people who also own mobile devices. Those participants were told to watch about two 15-minute podcasts per week for three months. From months four to six, they would then watch two 5-minute casts twice per week.
Participants would also follow each other on Twitter with the goal of providing social support to one another as they participated in a weight-loss program. They were asked to log on daily to read and post messages so they would receive the content delivered by a counselor and fellow participants.
The study found that those who took the extra step of posting multiple Twitter posts each day were also more likely to lose weight. In fact, the researchers estimated that every 10 posts to Twitter corresponded with approximately -0.5 percent weight loss. The participants achieved about a 2.7 percent weight loss overall.
Turner-McGrievy explained that the concept is based on the idea of a support group, albeit one that gets up-to-the-minute updates on a members’ experience. “I think having someone know what you’re doing is really important. And that’s one of the things Twitter does,” she said, “I you post to Twitter, ‘I’m going to go to the gym,’ and someone responds back, ‘Did you go to the gym?,’ you have to respond.”
Turner-McGrievy said it did not appear to make a difference whether or not a person was already using Twitter before the study.
However, the study also looked at another separate group of 49 people who received the podcasts, but did not post on Twitter. In that case, the participants achieved a 2.7 percent weight loss— identical to those who had access to Twitter. The findings published on Monday focused solely on the group that had access to Twitter.
The study was funded by the Interdisciplinary Obesity Center at the University of North Carolina, as well as UNC’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center Population Sciences Award.