It’s well known that dieting can be a lonely business, and that finding a support system can spur you on and help you stick to your goals.
New research from Weight Watchers has proven that having a community makes it more likely you will lose weight.
They questioned 1,000 UK adults who have previously tried to adopt or are currently adopting healthy eating habits, and nearly half of respondents said “knowing they were not alone” motivated them to stick to a healthy plan, and 52% percent claimed that the support of a community was absolutely crucial when it came to forming good eating habits.
Motivation from positive feedback was named the top reason for sharing online as 57 percent of Brits revealed they draw enthusiasm to continue their journey from their online peers.
Over half of respondents, 52% percent, claimed that the support of a community was absolutely crucial when it came to forming good eating habits, as they enjoyed having a network of people with “like-minded goals”.
Overall, 20 percent of Brits had more successful weight loss when sharing a diary of their lives with friends and followers.
It’s thought that making your goals public made you more accountable, while encouragement from the community helped people keep going when things got tough or weight loss plateaued.
A study by Cornell University found that social support from online communities increased the probability of a user staying on track and contributed to successful weight loss.
Of those surveyed by Weight Watchers, 29 percent felt a positive impact from social sharing. A fifth felt they were giving back to the community by inspiring others on the same journey through sharing their own everyday success.
Over a third of respondents said that following someone else’s online journey was “inspiring” and that sharing their own journey helped them identify the triggers of their unhealthy habits more easily.
One in five believe they benefited from a more positive experience by sharing their journey online and that it will have a lasting, positive effect on their health.
Over a fifth of 25-34-year olds admitted to sharing physical activity details – such as gym workouts or fitness classes – online at least once a week, mostly to keep themselves accountable.
The survey found that 35 per cent of people questioned said they regularly post photos of their food.
Surprisingly, men were more inclined to share photos of meals (29 percent) online than women (24 percent), a trend that was similarly reflected in sharing photos of cooking (31 percent of men vs 26 percent of women). Londoners and those in the North West were more likely to post pictures of what they were eating.
A quarter of those surveyed agreed that sharing what they did, ate and felt in real time helped them to form new habits, which became second nature. An added incentive was learning tips and tricks from other users, as 53 per cent sourced advice and 40 per cent discovered new recipes to try.
Claudia Nicholls from Weight Watchers said finding a community of likeminded dieters had never been simpler. “The support of a community has always proved to be an effective way of forming and sustaining healthy habits, but with the explosion of online communities there has never been an easier or more affordable way to tap into the power of the crowd for support and inspiration.
“Bringing little rituals like posting pictures into our lives quickly creates habits that are hard to give up, which can have a life-changing impact, by helping to shape how we live, how we feel and, ultimately, who we become.”
In an effort to inspire people to share their own journeys, Weight Watchers created #MyWWFlexDiary, a series of online films with lifestyle influencers What Katy Said, Someone’s Mum and Amy Treasure, who record one second of footage every day to show how simple and easy it is to form healthy habits that fit into everyday life.
The films are being released to over 450,000 followers across Weight Watchers UK’s social media channels.