Goal 3: Advance Translational Research

Using Social Media to Promote Healthy Behaviors

Since most people know that there are behaviors that they need to do to be healthy, can we leverage peer or family pressure or use social media to create a “grass roots” groundswell of health-promoting behaviors?

How might social media platforms such as Facebook and Meetup.com be leveraged for designing low-cost research studies and interventions that promote sustainable healthy lifestyle and behaviors?

Tags (Keywords associated with the idea)

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Critical Challenge (CC)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC :

Given the massive use of mobile devices and social media in our society, engaging this critical challenge would have a significant impact on our understanding how this technology can be used in disease prevention and health promotion.

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC :

It is feasible, timely, and cost-effective to study and incorporate into our interventions the use of social media because these applications are already so widely used.

Even if people haven’t memorized the American Heart Association’s seven factors related to heart health (get active, control cholesterol, eat better, manage blood pressure, lose weight, reduce blood sugar, stop smoking), most know that these are the behaviors that they need to do to be healthy. Despite this knowledge, heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the United States; about 1 in 3 U.S. adults has high blood pressure; diabetes affects nearly 26 million in the U.S.; and about 19% of U.S. adults are smokers. According to the CDC, in 2011 over 50% of those 18 years of age or older did not meet the recommended goal for aerobic exercise (150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity such as walking). Obesity is an epidemic: about one-third of American adults are obese (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2). People know what to do, but why don’t they do it? Our built environments and culture do not intrinsically promote a healthy lifestyle. In the absence of a culture that promotes walking or biking over driving cars and that promotes fast and fattening food over more healthy food choices, can we use peer networks to promote healthy behaviors? For example, Meetup.com is a tool that people use to meet for activities that include hiking, tennis, and physical fitness boot camps.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : NHLBI Staff

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Idea No. 351