The Effect of Integrating Online Social Networks into Routine Diet Therapy on Session Follow-Up in Overweight and Obese Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Nutrition Sciences, Faculty of Paramedical Sciences, Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences, Ahvaz, Iran.

2 Nutrition and Metabolic Disease Research Center, Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences, Ahvaz, Iran.


Introduction: One of the major challenges of weight loss diet therapy is following the counseling sessions until achieving the desired outcome. It has been shown that social support can improve the session attendance and while online social networks are among the cost-effective tools that can provide social support, their effect on follow-up rates has not been examined. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of using online social networks as a supplementary tool for a weight loss program on the follow-up rate.
Methods: This was a parallel three-armed randomized controlled trial. In this study, 113 overweight and obese females, who attended a clinic to receive the usual care for weight loss, were recruited and randomly assigned to one of three study groups: The Control group which only received the usual care, the Interactive group that joined an online group on the WhatsApp platform, and the Non-interactive group that received daily messages via the WhatsApp platform. Chi-square test was used to test the difference of follow-up rate between the study groups.
Results: After one month, 31.1-35.3% of the participants attended their second session, with Interactive group having the highest rates. After two months, the interactive group had the highest follow-up rate (26.5%) which was significantly higher compared to the control group (8.9%) (P=0.037).
Conclusion: Providing an interactive online community, besides the routine diet therapy, may have a positive effect on the session follow-up rate. However, more studies are needed to investigate this effect in the long term. Trial Registration: The original protocol of this study is registered at the Iranian Registry of Clinical Trials (, identifier IRCT20181017041368N1).


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