"The Secret is Out!": Supporting Weight Loss through Online Interaction

"The Secret is Out!": Supporting Weight Loss through Online Interaction

Laura W. Black (Ohio University, USA), Jennifer J. Bute (Ohio University, USA) and Laura D. Russell (Ohio University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-863-0.ch019
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Abstract

This chapter provides a case study of how social support is communicated through online interaction on a weight loss community website. The site has many features including member profiles, journals, discussion boards, exercise and food trackers, and charts to help members keep track of their weight loss efforts. Members set goals, write journal entries, comment on one another’s journals, upload photos, join groups and challenges, and discuss concerns issues related to diet, exercise, lifestyle changes, and other issues in their lives. Through analyzing journal entries and discussion forum comments, we discern how members demonstrate and respond to social support with one another. We also investigate the ways in which features of the online interaction and social networking help people communicate support. This study offers implications for facilitators or web designers who want to create online spaces that foster supportive communication, particularly related to health concerns.

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