Social media may be a weapon against childhood obesity

In a new scientific statement published in the journal Circulation, the group calls for more research into how to incorporate social media into programs fighting childhood obesity. However, the AHA acknowledges that current research on social media intervention has been mixed and that social media is also linked with a few drawbacks.

“Teenagers are texting and using Facebook and other social media as their primary communication with their peers, and we need to find out what factors can be incorporated into social media that will increase the effectiveness of these interventions to initiate and maintain weight loss in kids and adolescents,” says Jennifer S. Li, lead author, in an AHA press release.

Yet while the statement notes that children are drawn to social media, preferring texting over paper journals, Li and her team note that social media also plays a role in cyber bullying, sexting, and privacy issues. “Doctors need to understand digital technology better so that they can offer guidance to patients and their families on avoiding such issues, and will be aware of any such problems that occur,” she says.

The report was published December 3 online and will appear in the January 15 issue of the journal Circulation. According to a recent US survey of 13- to 17-year-olds by Common Sense Media, nine out of 10 teens have used social media, and more than half (51 percent) use it daily.

Access the statement: http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/early/2012/12/03/CIR.0b013e3182756d8e.full.pdf+html