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Towards Obesity Surveillance Using Multifaceted Online Social Relational Factors in Reddit


Overweight and obesity are recognized as one of the greatest modern public health problems1, yet worldwide prevalence of obesity has nearly doubled over the past 30 years2. As part of a strategy to control the obesity pandemic, the WHO recommends an obesity surveillance at the population level3. Empirical studies have shown the importance of social networks in obesity4 and new strategies focusing on social interactions and environments have been proposed5 to prevent the further increase in obesity prevalence. With the increasing use of the internet, online social networks, interactions, and environments (i.e., online social relational factors) deserve more attention. Nearly three- quarters of Americans go online daily6, for functions like connecting with individuals via social network sites7. Like face to face interactions, studies have suggested that social interactions and networks on the internet can influence behavior changes8. Previous studies examining social networking sites typically examine a few selected social networking sites (example studies9,10), although individuals could be members of multiple social networking sites. To better leverage online social relational factors for the purpose of characterizing and monitoring population obesity trends, we investigate weight management community members' other communities and their level of participation, a first step toward utilizing online multifactorial social interactions and environments.

Objective: We aim to better understand online social interactions and environments of individuals interested in weight management from a social media platform called Reddit.

Submitted by elamb on