Employee Benefit Views

Facebook = fat … sort of

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Posted January 9, 2013 by By Kelley M. Butler at 12:07PM. Comments (2)

 

With close to 80 million Americans now obese, employers need every wellness weapon at their disposal to help employees make better nutritional, activity and lifestyle choices. They may have a bit of new ammo in the form of a report in the Journal of Consumer Research, which finds that a five-minute visit to Facebook lowers users’ self-control in decisionmaking, including decisions about what to eat.
According to an article from Men’s Health, researchers found that frequent Facebook users (who also had close ties to friends) had a body mass index of about 26. Infrequent users’ BMI was about 24, within the healthy range of 18-25. 
Further, just five minutes on Facebook led to weaker nutrition choices, according to the report, as researchers asked one test group to read their Facebook feed for five minutes and another to read a news website for the same length of time. After the five minutes, all subjects were asked to choose between a cookie and a granola bar. People who read the news were more likely to choose a granola bar; the Facebookers were more likely to grab a cookie.  
Researchers also noticed that the Facebook group also posted a spike in self-esteem, leading the study’s author to connect the rise in confidence to the loss of control. 
"People use momentary increases in self-esteem as a license to indulge," study author Keith Wilcox, Ph.D., an assistant professor of marketing at Columbia University, told MensHealth.com. "The key here is that [the study participant] did not actually do anything to merit a treat."
However, he added, “Facebook is not the problem. It's the feeling of entitlement that's the problem."
So, how can employers translate attitude change into behavior change? Share your thoughts in the comments. 

With close to 80 million Americans now obese, employers need every wellness weapon at their disposal to help employees make better nutritional, activity and lifestyle choices. They may have a bit of new ammo in the form of a report in the Journal of Consumer Research, which finds that a five-minute visit to Facebook lowers users’ self-control in decisionmaking, including decisions about what to eat.

According to an article from Men’s Health, researchers found that frequent Facebook users (who also had close ties to friends) had a body mass index of about 26. Infrequent users’ BMI was about 24, within the healthy range of 18-25. 

Further, just five minutes on Facebook led to weaker nutrition choices, according to the report, as researchers asked one test group to read their Facebook feed for five minutes and another to read a news website for the same length of time. After the five minutes, all subjects were asked to choose between a cookie and a granola bar. People who read the news were more likely to choose a granola bar; the Facebookers were more likely to grab a cookie.  

Researchers also noticed that the Facebook group also posted a spike in self-esteem, leading the study’s author to connect the rise in confidence to the loss of control. 

"People use momentary increases in self-esteem as a license to indulge," study author Keith Wilcox, Ph.D., an assistant professor of marketing at Columbia University, told MensHealth.com. "The key here is that [the study participant] did not actually do anything to merit a treat."

However, he added, “Facebook is not the problem. It's the feeling of entitlement that's the problem."

So, how can employers translate attitude change into behavior change? Share your thoughts in the comments. 

 

2 Comments

Posted by: Jenifer M | January 11, 2013 9:09 AM

So, let's see: if I feel good about myself, I can reward myself with a fattening treat. If I feel bad about myself, I can have a fattening treat, either because it doesn't matter, or to make up for feeling bad. Seems like a lose-lose (or maybe gain-gain?) propoosition, either way.

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Posted by: Jim W | January 10, 2013 2:18 PM

This is not useful information. Employers should not waste their time worrying about it.

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