Social Media and Health: Is tweeting your weight helpful or hurtful?

– Alison Bowerman, staff

Would you tell all your Facebook friends how much you weigh? What about giving all your Twitter followers a play-by-play of what you eat or the amount of calories you’ve consumed in a day? A new dieting tool is taking the social media world by storm, tracking weight and eating patterns for free. There are the three new tools being used by people on Twitter and Facebook. is a weight-tracking site and was inspired by “The Public Humiliation Diet” used by Drew Magary. Magary’s method is based on the fear of embarrassment if you gain or do not lose weight. By making your weight fluctuation public for viewing via Twitter, does just this. The website extracts your weight from the tweets posted and tracks the loss – or gains – in weight you have experienced within about five days. The website claims to be “encouraging healthy lifestyles by providing visualization of your weight loss when you use the #tweetyourweight hash tag.” is another website jumping on the social media bandwagon. The site has a free food diary that members can use from their Twitter account, or directly on the website. The diary keeps track of everything you have tweeted or entered on the site, as well as the calories. By establishing a connection with Tweetwhatyoueat (TWYE) on twitter, you can send direct messages stating what you’ve eaten and the amount of calories in that food, which are transferred to your own food diary. The food diary on can be viewed by anyone visiting the site.

Weight loss accessories have also been established with wireless capabilities. Withings is a company selling an innovative body mass scale that has recently gained a lot of attention. At $156, the scale allows you to share your weight with your Twitter followers and Facebook friends through a Wi-Fi connection. The scale also connects to your computer, tablet or phone and creates user profiles so multiple people can track their weight and see it in chart form. The scale also allows you to share results and progress with doctors and personal trainers.

The food diary and scale are not automatically posted to your Twitter or Facebook accounts but, if you wish, they can be shared. The Tweet Your Weight website however, is done through a public tweet from your Twitter account, which links to the site. All of these tools however have the same goal: making social media a part of weight loss and healthy life styles. My question is, is all this focus on numbers, weight and calories really part of healthy living? What ever happened to quality over quantity?

The term “public humiliation” is a perfect way to describe the diet technique used by the site. If you have lost weight by living a healthy life style, I am all for flaunting your success. But it’s unfortunate that the most common way people do this is through their weight. Why does a number on a scale sum up a person’s worth?   A simple number does not do justice the struggles that accompany the journey to a healthy life style. Even more so, we should not be embarrassed of our weight for any reason. In fact, it would not be healthy to lose over two and a half pounds per week. Giving weight loss public bragging rights assumes a contest within our selves to lose the most weight possible, which is actually extremely dangerous.   There are already so many diets promoting malnutrition and deprivation as a means of weight loss; let’s not make Facebook and Twitter one more place for ‘fat talk.’

It’s surprising to me that social media has become a platform for health, since so often technology has been blamed for obesity in our generation. Children are criticized for sitting and playing games, or chatting through the computer rather than going outside to play. How about instead of tweeting about what we ate or what we weighed in at that day, we get outside and stop putting so much energy into talking about our weight. To me, the best way to be happy and healthy is to stop stressing and talking about what it means to be healthy! Take time to appreciate the world around you as it is, and stop trying to change your self in order to fit in it.

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