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Social Media May Be the Achilles Heel of Childhood Obesity

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Researchers are catching on that today's youth use social media far more than any other source for their daily information, and are advocating for more research into how social media can be used to combate childhood obesity. The peer-reviewed journal Circulation recently published a scientific statement calling for more research into how to social media into programs fighting childhood obesity.

The call for greater research wasn't without some qualifications. The researchers noted that social media, like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, are also connected with aspects of cyber bullying, sexting, and other privacy issues. Nevertheless, the call for greater research linking social media with tackling childhood obesity is overdue and necessary to tackle a major public health crisis.

This was no minor group of researchers, either, who came together to issue the statement. They were comprised of leading researchers from the American Heart Association. The theory is that people with similar interests tend to attract each other, if you can impact one overweight youth via social media, the impact will spread to that person's social network.

“Some research shows that even in virtual social networks, people tend to associate with others like themselves,” Dr. Jennifer Li of Duke University Medical Center said. “So if you develop a network of kids who are overweight, you can have an impact on all of them — in the real world and online — because if one starts making healthy changes, the others will be influenced to do so as well.”