Effectiveness of social media-based interventions on weight-related behaviors and body weight status: Review and meta-analysis

Ruopeng An, Mengmeng Ji, Sheng Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objectives: We reviewed scientific literature regarding the effectiveness of social media-based interventions about weight-related behaviors and body weight status. Methods: A keyword search were performed in May 2017 in the Clinical-Trials.gov, Cochrane Library, PsycINFO, PubMed, and Web of Science databases. We conducted a meta-analysis to estimate the pooled effect size of social media-based interventions on weight-related outcome measures. Results: We identified 22 interventions from the keyword and reference search, including 12 randomized controlled trials, 6 pre-post studies and 3 cohort studies conducted in 9 countries during 2010-2016. The majority (N = 17) used Facebook, followed by Twitter (N = 4) and Instagram (N = 1). Intervention durations averaged 17.8 weeks with a mean sample size of 69. The meta- analysis showed that social media-based interventions were associated with a statistically significant, but clinically modest reduction of body weight by 1.01 kg, body mass index by 0.92 kg/m2, and waist circumstance by 2.65 cm, and an increase of daily number of steps taken by 1530. In the meta-regression there was no dose-response effect with respect to intervention duration. Conclusions: The boom of social media provides an unprecedented opportunity to implement health promotion programs. Future interventions should make efforts to improve intervention scalability and effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)670-682
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican journal of health behavior
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2017


  • Body weight
  • Obesity meta-analysis
  • Obesity systematic review
  • Social media health promotion
  • Weight-related behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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