Your Social Network Can Make You Skinny

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Harvard researchers prove that being part of a social network of people getting in shape can help you lose weight. A groundbreaking study released by the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that weight loss can spread from person to person through social networks of friends and families. The study showed the same effect for weight gain and weight loss, finding that "the relevance of social influence also suggests that it may be possible to harness this same force to slow the spread of obesity."

it is very encouraging to see that these findings validate our model of leveraging the power of the community to help people live healthier, happier lives.

A groundbreaking study released by the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that weight loss can spread from person to person through social networks of friends and families.

The study showed the same effect for weight gain and weight loss, finding that "the relevance of social influence also suggests that it may be possible to harness this same force to slow the spread of obesity. "Network phenomena might be exploited to spread positive health behaviors... People are connected, and so their health is connected." This mirrors the model underlying Wellsphere (http://www.wellsphere.com), an online community recently launched by Stanford graduates that is specifically designed for people to help each other eat better, lose weight get fit and unwind.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine study, which analyzed the relationships and weights of more than 12,000 friends, neighbors and family members over 32 years, the closer the friendship, the more likely people were to influence one another, regardless of geography- friends who live hundreds of miles away have just as much impact as friends who are next door. These findings solidify the theory that virtual communities can effectively influence members to lose weight and get in shape.

Wellsphere's Chief Information Officer, Geoff Rutledge, MD, PhD, himself a former faculty member at Harvard Medical School, noted that "it is very encouraging to see that these findings validate our model of leveraging the power of the community to help people live healthier, happier lives." "There is clear evidence that the model is working with many Wellsphere members such as Anna G., Jon L., and Ellen O. getting the support and motivation they need from the community to achieve their weight loss goals," added CEO Ron Gutman. "Since launching the site, we continue to get great feedback from Wellsphere members about the personalized advice and support they get from the community. Members are particularly excited about the guidance they get from professionals on our site, such as personal trainer Jim L., nutritionist Maria F. and wellness coach Stephanie B., whose expertise helps community members make sustainable changes.

Wellsphere brings together people and professionals in a unique way that allows users to find out what really works for them, to engage in an open dialogue about different ideas and solutions, and to support one another along the way," said Gutman. "More and more, we're seeing members share information about a wide variety of healthy living topics, such as exercising once you have kids, how to control food cravings and how to cook healthy meals. Members from all over the country share tips and advice, post workout videos and cooking shows, and recommend gyms, running routes and nutritionists in their neighborhoods. The findings from the Harvard researchers really come to life when you see our members forming groups to share nutrition advice, answering each other's questions and inviting each other to participate in activities and events. Our community is growing fast and we're constantly improving the site based on great feedback from our members."

Please let us know what you think after visiting us at http://www.wellsphere.com

Get Active. Eat Better. Unwind.

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Ron Gutman
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