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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

South Carolina: Study Examines Approach to Harness Social Networks for Weight Loss

Dr. Courtney Monroe, assistant professor of health promotion, education, and behavior at the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health, has partnered with researchers from the Arnold School’s exercise science and epidemiology and biostatistics departments to publish results from a pilot randomized controlled trial on the feasibility and efficacy of a novel technology-based approach to harness social networks for weight loss. They published their findings in Obesity Science & Practice.

With this study, the researchers aimed to assess the utility of harnessing social support from existing social ties to manage weight control. Their trial evaluated an intervention that provided health-promoting technology (i.e., Fitbit Zip physical activity tracker and digital body weight scale) for leveraging the influence of existing social ties.

Dr. Monroe and her team found that while the participants reported high program satisfaction and made improvements in perceived social support for diet and exercise, weight losses during the 16-week trial did not differ between the two groups. The authors concluded that although the intervention was feasible to implement, this approach failed to enhance outcomes of a face-to-face, group-based behavioral weight-loss treatment.

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