The benefits of social connections have long been recognized for mental or emotional wellness. As recently as last year, Psychology Today reports, “researchers at University of Chicago… found that extreme loneliness increases a person’s chances of premature death by 14%.”
But now, new reports that social connections may help more than emotional well-being. They also may help support weight loss.
Reuters reports that “users of an online weight loss program lost more when they participated in the social group, compared to more isolated users, a new study finds.”
The study, “Social embeddedness in an online weight management programme is linked to greater weight loss” in Journal of the Royal Society Interface, provided an “analysis of the online community of Calorie King, a paid online weight loss program with social networking features.” According to the study: “Because little is known about the impact of these online communities, we examined the relationship between individual and social network variables, and weight loss in a large, international [Online Weight Management] OWM programme.”
Reuters continues: “At the six-month point, members who were not social networking had lost an average of 4.1 percent of their body weight. Those with two to nine friends lost an average of 5.2 percent, those in the giant cluster lost 6.8 percent and those with the most exchanges of online communication lost more than eight percent of their body weight, according to the results in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.”
The piece lends support to the importance of culture and connectivity when seeking wellness goals. What matter is social support. According to Rebecca A. Krukowski, of the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center in Memphis, “Other studies have found that social support on- and offline helps buoy weight loss success.”