Sports fans can use Twitter to follow the big game, trash talk opposing fans, interact with their favorite athletes and, apparently, even lose weight.
That's right. The results of a recently published study in Translational Behavioral Medicine suggest that people who tweet and re-tweet can have an easier time shedding extra pounds.
For their study, researchers at the University of South Carolina divided 96 overweight and obese adults into two groups. Both groups received biweekly podcasts with tips on how to lose weight, and one group downloaded a weight-loss app as well as Twitter. These participants received messages from a weight-loss counselor and responses from fellow participants.
During the six months of the study the two groups each collectively lost weight, but the group using Twitter lost more weight. What's more, the researchers found that those who posted the most messages to Twitter lost the most weight. Brie Turner-McGrievy, one of the lead authors of the study, said she and her team found that every 10 tweets corresponded with roughly 0.5 percent weight loss.
The key? Tweeting about your weight loss or gain and your exercise routine.
"No one wants to talk about their weight online. One of the things we asked people to do was post how many pounds they lost on Friday of every week," Turner-McGrievy told Wired. "Some people still didn’t want to post how many pounds they had lost, even with the anonymous Twitter account. That's very sensitive."
But that's also apparently why it worked. The researchers posited that Twitter might even be a more effective weight loss tool than other social networks, like Facebook, because Twitter users don't have to use their real name or identity.