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Can Twitter Help Childhood Obesity?

Social media platform Twitter is widely used as a tool for sharing and receiving information. A recent study suggests that tweeting
could play a positive role in reducing childhood obesity rates.

The main objective of the study, published in the American Journal of Public Health (2014; 104[7], e62-e69), was to examine the information shared using the hashtag #childhood obesity. The study authors looked at more than 1,000 relevant tweets originating from 576 users. They then determined exactly who those users were and the types of communication they provided. In analyzing the data, the researchers learned that individuals— many of them non-credible sources—were more likely to tweet about childhood obesity than organizations were. Tweets were also more focused on behavior modification as opposed to “environment or policy.” Based on these findings, the researchers posited that Twitter could offer qualified individuals and organizations a podium from which to disseminate helpful information and share resources.

“In addition, organizations on Twitter are perceived as more authoritative than individuals,” the authors added. “Government and media sources in our study had the most followers overall and were significantly more likely to be followed within the network of those tweeting about childhood obesity.”

Fitness professionals and organizations are also in a prime position to take to Twitter and share insights and resources on childhood obesity. Next time you log on, search #childhoodobesity and add your well-informed voice to the cause. And make sure to connect with us at @ideafifit.

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