Tweets may predict your dieting success: study

Tweets may predict your dieting success: study

Your tweets may accurately predict whether you will stick a diet, say scientists, including one of Indian origin, who have found that a person's attitude on social media is directly linked to the likelihood of their dieting efforts succeeding.

Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology in the US have determined that dieting success - or failure - can be predicted with an accuracy rate of 77 per cent based on the sentiment of the words and phrases one uses on Twitter.

"We see that those who are more successful at sticking to their daily dieting goals express more positive sentiments and have a greater sense of achievement in their social interactions," said lead researcher Munmun De Choudhury, Assistant Professor at Georgia Tech.

"They are focused on the future, generally more social and have larger social networks," De Choudhury.

Words and phrases like "Train smart like a trainer... win like six time champion" and "If we never stumble we never fall. If we never fall we never fail, and if we never fail we never grow!" are some examples of the upbeat and self-reflective language the research indicates is most common to successful dieters.

Other traits of successful dieters are that they tend to be more focused on topics related to health and fitness, and they are more socially interactive.

"We see that these users are much more likely to share healthy recipes, offer tips on nutrition and exercise, and report on their own progress," said De Choudhury.

"Their larger network of friends and followers, and increased engagement, means that they tend to also have stronger support systems, which positively impacts the likelihood of dieting compliance," she said.

As for those who are not successful in meeting dietary goals, the Twitter content often has a demonstrably negative tone and they tend to be more uneasy and fearful in their posts.

"These users tend to be more anxious seemingly because of a lack of emotional control, and because of certain activities and events of daily life," said De Choudhury.

Sample posts here include, "I'm pretty sure I'm going to lose my mind. Completely lose what little is left" and "Feel rough as old boots this morning :/ Ankle hurts, shin hurts, chest hurts, head hurts."

While the study of Twitter in isolation can reveal insights into users' health status, the research breaks new ground in that the study group consists of individuals who have connected a calorie-counting app - and Twitter accounts.

"These areas have been individually observed to glean health indicators," said De Choudhury.
"However, considering these data sources together and applying an established causality testing methodology allows us to validate for the very first time the efficacy of social media and quantified self-sensing in revealing risk to diet compliance," she said.

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