Weight Loss Seekers Motivated by Social Dieting, Gamification

BY Courtney Huckabay
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Team challenges are an increasingly popular and profitable way to lose pounds at home and work. An industry pioneer’s communal methodology, which promotes healthy competition and conviviality, is spurring significant financial payouts and pound shedding — with many participants realizing over 100 pounds lost and thousands of dollars gained.

Studies Show Social Weight Loss Is Contagious
In a Harvard study, as published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that social networks play a significant role in the incidence of obesity, including both its proliferation and its remediation. The researchers concluded that social networks are closely tied to obesity, and examined the reasons why social networks affect people’s weight, including the fact that people “are influenced by the evident appearance and behaviors of those around them” and because “social contacts might change a person’s tolerance for being obese or might influence his or her adoption of specific behaviors.” The researchers also found that “weight-​loss interventions that provide peer support — that is, that modify the person’s social network — are more successful than those that do not. People are connected, and so their health is connected.”

AudienceSCAN found 42.2% of U.S. adults set personal goals to lose weight in the next 12 months.

Similarly, a Brown University study concluded that social networks and teamwork play a significant role in enhancing weight loss outcomes in weight loss interventions. The study found that team-​based weight loss competitions significantly influenced each other’s weight loss, suggesting that shedding pounds can have a "contagious" ripple effect. This finding further substantiates the connection between social networks and health behaviors — particularly related to diet and exercise. In short, the Brown University study found that competitive, team-​based weight loss competitions can be very effective. Published in the journal, Obesity, lead study author Tricia Leahey remarked, "We know that obesity can be socially contagious, but now we know that social networks play a significant role in weight loss as well, particularly team-​based weight loss competitions.  In our study, weight loss clearly clustered within teams, which suggests that teammates influenced each other, perhaps by providing accountability, setting expectations of weight loss, and providing encouragement and support.”

Keep in mind the valuable social aspects of diet plans, and use those same channels to reach Weight Loss Seekers. AudienceSCAN reported 54% of Weight Loss Seekers are active on YouTube, so spots there could be effective. Weight Loss Seekers are 26% more likely than average consumers to be pinning away on Pinterest, so be sure to use this social channel in marketing efforts as well.

In addition, a Mayo Clinic study on “Individual- Versus Group-​Based Financial Incentives for Weight Loss” not only found that “sustained weight loss can be achieved by financial incentives” and that “financial incentives can improve results, and improve compliance and adherence,” but lead author, Jeffrey T. Kullgren, M.D., M.S., M.P.H., also cited the advantages of social dynamics for employers offering such awards to help control health care costs while also improving the health of employees, noting, “We found that these incentives were substantially more powerful when delivered in groups…" The study concluded that “A group-​based financial incentive was more effective than an individual incentive.”

Money could be a great way to incent Weight Loss Seekers, because according to AudienceSCAN data, 21% of them make less than $24,999 annually.

Losing weight with friends, family members or co-​workers in a competition format can make weight loss easier and more likely,” notes Roddenberry. “Since a team has to win as a group, every member has a stake in the other member’s success. The result is an elevated incidence of support and positive peer pressure. And the desire to beat other teams, to win both money and bragging rights, adds to the excitement and motivation of a contest or competition where cash prizes are at stake.”

In fact, 32.5% of Weight Loss Seekers entered a contest or drawing via browsers, tablets or mobile phones in the past 6 months, according to AudienceSCAN research.

Our financially incentivized team and other competition-​driven diet contests, and other of our social network-​supported weight loss wagering programs, are strategically designed to help participants stay engaged in the positive new behaviors,” notes HealthyWage co-​founder David Roddenberry. “Our social dieting strategies include elements like healthy competition, teamwork, expert and peer-​based support, encouragement and, of course, peer accountability that, in combination, is a powerful and exciting weight loss tool.  The latest independent research, and our own company’s years of experience in the field, wholeheartedly supports the efficacy of social dieting. Plus, in addition to making weight loss efforts more successful, it also makes it a lot more fun!”

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies, or with the SalesFuel API. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.