Social Network Interests Can Predict Obesity Prevalence
Higher obesity prevalence for areas with more people with TV-related interests on Facebook
TUESDAY, April 30 (HealthDay News) -- Online social interests can predict the prevalence of obesity in a given geographical area, according to a study published online April 24 in PLOS ONE.
Rumi Chunara, Ph.D., from Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues examined the correlation between user interests on web-based social networks (Facebook) and the prevalence of obesity for metropolitan areas (metros) across the United States and neighborhoods within New York City. The proportions of obese and/or overweight populations in these areas were identified from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance and New York City EpiQuery systems.
The researchers found that having a higher proportion of the population with activity-related interests on Facebook correlated with a significantly lower predicted prevalence of obesity and/or overweight (12.0 percent across metros and 7.2 percent across neighborhoods). Having a greater proportion with an interest in television correlated with a higher prevalence of obesity and/or overweight (3.9 percent for metros and 27.5 percent for neighborhoods).
"Activity-related interests across the U.S.A. and sedentary-related interests across N.Y.C. were significantly associated with obesity prevalence," the authors write. "Further research is needed to understand how the online social environment relates to health outcomes and how it can be used to identify or target interventions."