A study from the Arnold School of Public Health finds that Twitter posting via mobile app can be beneficial in helping people lose weight. Dr. Brie Turner-McGrievy of the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health’s department of health promotion, education, and behavior examined the use of mobile devices vs. traditional electronic methods to determine whether the type of device impacts engagement and weight loss. The results were published in the International Journal of Medical Informatics.
The study examined two mobile weight loss interventions — Pounds Off Digitally (POD) and mobile POD (mPOD) over a three-month period. The mPOD participants were required to own a mobile device for study entry and also received weight loss information via podcast. Only participants in both studies who were randomized to receive the same theory-based podcast (TBP) were used in the study’s analysis.
“The ‘m’ in mHealth is often thought of as the ability to receive health information and monitor behaviors on the go,” said Dr. Turner-McGrievy. “However, little is known about how people actually use mobile vs. traditional access methods and if access method affects engagement and health outcomes.”
Despite a mobile delivery method, 58 percent of participants reported using a non-mobile device to access the majority of the podcasts (desktop computers), 76 percent accessed the podcasts mostly at their home or work, and 62 percent were mainly non-mobile (e.g., sitting at work) when listening. During the three months of the study, 55 percent of Twitter posts originated from the website vs. posts made by mobile app. However, Twitter mobile app users had significantly greater weight loss.
“The type of device used for podcast listening did not affect engagement but there was a trend toward greater weight loss among mobile users. The method of Twitter posting was associated with engagement and weight loss with mobile app users posting more to Twitter and losing more weight,” Dr. Turner-McGrievy said.