Losing it online: Characterizing participation in an online weight loss community

Victor Li, David W. McDonald, Elizabeth V. Eikey, Jessica Sweeney, Janessa Escajeda, Guarav Dubey, Kaitlin Riley, Erika S. Poole, Eric B. Hekler

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

Many people struggle with their weight and are turning to online communities for social and informational support. The aim of this study is to understand the issues commonly discussed in online weight loss communities. Through observation and content analysis of threads in one specific weight loss community, we identified 17 distinct categories discussed by the participants. We detail four categories specifically: Personal Experience, Consumption Choices, Dieting Strategy, and Exercise. Our analysis describes some key user roles and states that often relate to different phases of a person's weight loss journey. We identify a set of transient states, which are not proper roles but are significant in an online community where individuals are attempting to change their own behaviors. We close with design suggestions for encouraging and maintaining participant engagement in an online health community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGROUP 2014 - Proceedings of the 18th ACM International Conference on Supporting Group Work
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Pages35-45
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781450330435
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 9 2014
Event18th ACM International Conference on Supporting Group Work, GROUP 2014 - Sanibel Island, United States
Duration: Nov 9 2014Nov 12 2014

Publication series

NameProceedings of the International ACM SIGGROUP Conference on Supporting Group Work

Other

Other18th ACM International Conference on Supporting Group Work, GROUP 2014
CountryUnited States
CitySanibel Island
Period11/9/1411/12/14

Keywords

  • Content analysis
  • Online community
  • Weight loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)

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