The fight against obesity has gained quite a reputation in the past couple of years. Suddenly, we realized how our human race might become extinct due to unhealthy lifestyles. Who would have imagined that what you eat today can determine your life span tomorrow? A couple of days ago I stumbled upon an interesting article about how obese young Americans can develop Type 2 Diabetes and how obesity itself can consume their life span in a faster way – faster than the life of a healthy adult.
So how can the young generation fight this with tools that are available and low cost? Then it hit me: Social Media. Here are my top 3 reasons why I believe social media can actually help us win against obesity and being overweight.
#1: Social Media, the Ocean of Information
If you think of social media itself as an ocean of information, it all makes sense: we have over 1 billion Facebook users and over 500 millions of Twitter users. Google+ had 90 million users as of early January 2012, while Pinterest grew up fast with over 10 million users one year after launch. And social media enthusiasts simply love those four social media platforms. Of course, there are many more, but I think these four are the “front line” in our fight against unhealthy lifestyles.
On one side we have Facebook and Google+ that give us space in terms of communication, information sharing, groups of interest, search engines, groups of friends. Those two social media platforms taught us how to interact with people from various countries, regions, cultures by using images, words, expressions and emoticons. On the other side, we have Twitter that allowed us to only express the essence of things in less than 140 characters. Who would have thought that people could learn how to communicate efficiently? Taken individually, 140 characters are not enough, but imagine people tweeting at least one tweet per day and multiply it by 500 million users. You would get 70,000,000,000 characters per day, which I believe is more than enough to convince me that Twitter itself is at least a sea of information.
Then, there is Pinterest, a platform based on images and photographs. Ancient quotes say that an image is worth ten thousand words. Need I say more? It’s all about the power of visual here: images and imagery itself is the best way to store basic information. We have baby children learning images before they could actually learn words. If films which are basically images set in motion can make us laugh, cry, feel emotional, the sole effect of an image is somewhat similar.
Now, imagine using all that freedom and power to promote a healthy lifestyle on a daily basis: tweets about diet coupons, Facebook motivational statuses, Google+ hangouts at the gym and Pinterest images with healthy meals. On these given terms, should we not say that social media is an ocean of information?
#2: Social Media and the Speed of Light
Social media manifests itself through constant real-time user interaction. Not only that, but I’m sure everybody knows and sees how news travel fast through social media channels. One second you place a #hashtag on Twitter and the other everyone tweets it. Or another example: Pinterest. For e.g.: I google search a specific image and because I find several ones that I like, I pin them on my pinboard. Next thing, people start repinning it and follow my pinboard.
The “speed of light” in social media actually enhances people and encourages the interaction between users who might or might now share a history together. You see people get familiar with each other, even though they didn’t have anything in common before. This has been happening on Facebook for the past 9 years. And this happens because social media creates that specific channel which connects us in various ways. As a reference to the fight against obesity and an overweight lifestyle, what would it actually mean for people who had nothing in common except unhealthy meals and sedentary lifestyles to actually unite and take action in changing their habits?
People are more motivated to take action when they get the feeling of belonging to a group, to a community, when being part of something big, something revolutionary. We see people sharing more motivational pictures in the past year, we see people encouraging each other, taking new steps into changing their overall health choices. We see new ways to recommend diet plans, places, centers, health care facilities, gyms and fitness centers. We can follow a #hashtag and see if other people are struggling or doing as well as we do. We can repin stories and motivational images, we can hang out with our group of friends in a gym by using Google Hangout. We can post videos of us working hard, get viral and get famous on the Internet and inspire others worldwide.
#3: The Mobile Side of Social Media
We are constantly turning into people who believe more is less in social media: why limit ourselves to PC, laptops and tablets only, when there are smartphones for everyone? The future is mobile, indeed. So let’s examine a bit the mobile side of social media and how can it help up in our war against obesity. Here is an interesting infographic generated with Google Mobile Planet. But before that, let’s have a look at some other infographic details:
- Pinterest users are mostly female (80%) of young age 24 to 44 (55%), college educated (60%). Average time spent on site is 1 hour and 17 minutes. Domains of interest: crafts, foods, health, fashion, looks.
- Twitter users are mostly female (10%, while male only 7%) of young age 18 to 29 (14%), college educated (9% some college; 9% college+). Average time spent on site is 36 minutes. 33.9 % of Twitter users are interested in the Health sector.177 million tweets are being sent per day, from which 72% represent tweets about Personal Updates, 55% are shared links to News Stories and 54% are posts on General Life Observations. 2013 brings a 182% increase in Mobile Twitter users. Remember, the future is Mobile after all!
- Google+ users are mostly males (70%), usually students (20%), meaning they hold some college degree or are nearly graduating. The “+1” share button is used more than 5billion times per day. Google+ users spend on average 6 minutes on site and show an interest of 0.4% in the Health sector.
- Facebook users are mostly active outside the United States or Canada (81%). There are over 1 billion active users, more than 550 million daily active users and 600 million monthly active mobile users. This means more than 56% of the total social media platform members are mobile and a number of approximately 11% use Facebook only in mobile version. We also see an average of 62.7 value of interest shown in the Health category, meaning people use Facebook to get information and news about health-related topics, including weight loss and obesity.
Before letting you enjoy the short infographic on how Mobile changed human behavior and how Mobila changes and links to social media, there are a few conclusions worth mentioning:
- People can use all means possible to fight unhealthy practices, unhealthy lifestyles and unhealthy eating habits
- People can lose weight with the help of their smartphones and their social media connections (in a direct or indirect way)
- People can give up on being static and turn to a more dynamic lifestyle
Technology, if used smart can become a wonderful resource for great life changes