What Twitter reveals about successful dieters

New York: Successful dieters are focused on the future, generally more social and have larger social networks, says a study based on analysis of tweets posted on the microblogging platform.

“We see that those who are more successful at sticking to their daily dieting goals express more positive sentiments and have a greater sense of achievement in their social interactions,” said lead researcher Munmun De Choudhury, Assistant Professor at Georgia Institute of Technology in the US.

There is a direct link between a person’s attitude on social media and the likelihood that their dieting efforts will succeed.

Dieting success — or failure — can be predicted with an accuracy rate of 77 per cent based on the sentiment of the words and phrases one uses on Twitter, the researchers said.

Words and phrases like “Train smart like a trainer…win like 6 time champion [sic],” and “If your not failing your not trying hard enough…[sic],” are some examples of the upbeat and self-reflective language the research indicated as most common to successful dieters.

Other traits of successful dieters are that they tend to be more focused on topics related to health and fitness, and they are more socially interactive.

“We see that these users are much more likely to share healthy recipes, offer tips on nutrition and exercise, and report on their own progress,” De Choudhury said.

“Their larger network of friends and followers, and increased engagement, means that they tend to also have stronger support systems, which positively impacts the likelihood of dieting compliance,” she added.

As for those who are not successful in meeting dietary goals, their Twitter content often has a demonstrably negative tone and they tend to be more uneasy and fearful in their posts.

“These users tend to be more anxious seemingly because of a lack of emotional control, and because of certain activities and events of daily life,” said De Choudhury.

The study group consisted of individuals who have connected their MyFitnessPal (MFP) — a calorie-counting app — and Twitter accounts.

The findings are scheduled to be presented at the 20th ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing to be held from February 25 – March 1, in Portland, Oregon, US.