The movement to encourage -- and contain -- social dieting
Why would someone choose to bemoan her difficulties in resisting junk food, accompanied by a photo of herself -- bare-bellied and in a sports bra -- in a Facebook post? I ask only because I've seen it happen. A much better place for a dieter in need of support to turn might be a new site, like Friendship Weight, of that sort that is custom built for these people with both a lot of body dissatisfaction and only a little sensibility about what shouldn't be shared with their entire Facebook network.
The basic premise of Friendship Weight is that users sign up to track their weekly gains and losses (without posting their actual weight), and then invite hand-chosen friends and family members to receive updates on their progress.
In the proper context, harnessing social ties can be an incredibly effective way of reaching a goal. As David Freedman described in The Atlantic magazine last June, socially driven behavior modification is a powerful tool. Freedman reviewed a number of online programs where dieters are teamed up with dieticians, psychologists, and similarly minded peers as a sort of e-support group; but their limitations lay in the high costs (up to $3,000 a year) associated with hiring professional help. Some less expensive apps simply aid in self-motivation/flagellation, or pit users competitively against people who are also trying to lose weight.