Is the popularity of social networking services beneficial for public health? Focusing on active travel and BMI

Hong, J. , Sila-Nowicka, K. and McArthur, D. P. (2018) Is the popularity of social networking services beneficial for public health? Focusing on active travel and BMI. Journal of Transport and Health, 11, pp. 183-192. (doi: 10.1016/j.jth.2018.09.003)

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Social networking services (SNSs) can affect people's behaviour in a variety of ways; and through this their health outcomes. People generate and are exposed to content which circulates easily among a large, geographically dispersed population. They can also engage in supportive or competitive activities with their connections and the wider community. This online activity may lead to changes in behaviour and positive health outcomes e.g., exercising more or eating more healthily. Engaging with a SNS may also lead to negative outcomes such as depression, addiction, and less participation in offline social communities. As the number of SNS users has been increasing dramatically, it is important to understand if this will be beneficial or detrimental for public health. In this study, we examine how the frequency of SNS use is associated with active travel (i.e., walking and cycling) and body mass index (BMI) in the Glasgow and Clyde Valley Planning area, Scotland. We employ both a self-reported measure of active travel from a travel diary (N = 1684) and an objective measure of average walking hours from Global Positioning System (GPS) data (N = 282) collected in 2015. These are analysed with statistical models (i.e., binomial logistic regression, multinomial logistic regression and linear regression models). We find that there is no significant association between the frequency of SNS use and our subjective measure of active travel, while people who intensively use SNS are more likely to be obese than non-users. However, analyses with an objective measure of average walking hours (GPS) show that people who intensively use SNS spend less time walking and tend to be obese, calling for further analyses.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hong, Dr Jinhyun and Mcarthur, Dr David and Sila-Nowicka, Ms Katarzyna
Authors: Hong, J., Sila-Nowicka, K., and McArthur, D. P.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Urban Studies
Journal Name:Journal of Transport and Health
ISSN (Online):2214-1413
Published Online:18 September 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 The Authors
First Published:First published in Journal of Transport and Health 11: 183-192
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
651922Urban Big Data Research CentrePiyushimita ThakuriahEconomic and Social Research Council (ESRC)ES/L011921/1SPS - URBAN STUDIES