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Losing It Online: Characterizing Participation in an Online Weight Loss Community

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Association for Computing Machinery


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


Li, Victor; McDonald, David W.; Eikey, Elizabeth V.; Sweeney, Jessica; Escajeda, Janessa; Dubey, Guarav; Riley, Kaitlin; Poole, Erika S.; Hekler, Eric B. (2014): Losing It Online: Characterizing Participation in an Online Weight Loss Community. Proceedings of the 2014 ACM International Conference on Supporting Group Work. DOI: 10.1145/2660398.2660416. Association for Computing Machinery. pp. 35–45. Sanibel Island, Florida, USA