care providers should embrace social media's potential as a tool for promoting
healthy behavioral change in children who are overweight and obese, says a new
American Heart Association scientific statement published online in the
association's journal Circulation.
writing group evaluated research on Internet-based interventions to lose
weight, increase physical activity, and improve eating habits.
studies we looked at suggest that more parental involvement and more
interaction with counselors and peers was associated with greater success rates
for overweight children and teens who participated in an online
intervention," says Jennifer S. Li, MD, MHS, chair of the writing group,
in an AHA press release.
that influenced success were whether the rest of the family was involved in the
intervention, the degree of back-and-forth communication and feedback with a
counselor or support group, and the frequency with which kids and adolescents
logged on and used the programs.
who are overweight or obese tend to share a home or spend their leisure time
with others who are overweight or obese, according to research.
tend to hang out with athletes, and overweight kids hang out together, so they
reinforce each other's eating habits or preferences for recreational
activities," Li said.
95% of 12- to 17-year-old children have Internet access at home and/or in
school, so online social network health interventions should be explored as an
effective way to prevent or manage excessive weight, Li said.
the downsides to social media include exposure to cyber bullying, privacy
issues, "sexting," and Internet addiction that can cause sleep
deprivation, Li adds.
authors recommend clinicians, policy makers, and researchers ensure privacy
protection, monitor outcomes, and harness the strength of a health promotion
social network to devise interventions that initiate and sustain behavior
changes such self-monitoring, goal-setting, and problem-solving.
research is needed to provide data on overweight and obese adolescents to
determine whether differences in gender, ethnicity, geographic location, and
socioeconomic status affect the efficacy and level of engagement with social
media and technologically based weight management interventions, says AHA.
information on APTA's social media policy and resources that can help PTs and
PTAs stay informed, engage with peers on professional issues, and share the
benefits of physical therapy with consumers, go to APTA's Social Media Tips
& Best Practices webpage.