Can Twitter be good for your waistline?

Sherry Pagoto tells Fox 25 TV about her research into social media

By Lisa M. Larson

UMass Medical School Communications

October 16, 2012

Sherry Pagoto, PhD, associate professor of medicine, who is studying Twitter as a tool for weight loss, told the Fox 25 Morning Show the support provided by the social media site can be especially powerful.

Dr. Pagoto is conducting a pilot study at UMass Medical School, funded by the UMMS Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program, in which participants Tweet their progress to a hundred supportive followers on Twitter every day. They also are given traditional weight loss counseling.

Pagoto said she decided to pursue this line of research after noticing a trend in the number of Twitter users who have lost large amounts of weight. She brought the subject of one of those weight-loss success stories, Dani Holmes-Kirk, with her on Fox to talk about how it helped her.

“I surveyed people on Twitter like Dani who used it as a part of their weight loss and what I found was that there is something to Twitter that particularly seems to be really powerful,” Pagoto told Fox’s Sorboni Banerjee. “Their Twitter followers seem to be the greatest source of support and accountability, as well as information.”

Pagoto said research has long documented that obesity and unhealthy habits are “socially contagious.” She believes the popularity of social media can make healthy eating socially contagious, she said.

Related links on UMassMedNow:

Newsmaker: Sherry Pagoto on emotional eating study

Newsmaker: Sherry Pagoto on virtual coaching and weight loss

EXPERT’S CORNER: Sherry Pagoto on five keys to weight loss

Behaviorist goes to the beach to convince sun lovers to make a safer tanning choice