Can Video Chat Combat Obesity?

By now, it’s pretty clear that screens are here to stay. We spend about four hours a day on our phones, and this doesn’t include other screens like computers and televisions. There are a host of problems that come with our society’s ever-growing addiction to screens, and the National Institutes of Health has found that one significant consequence is obesity.

Since there’s really no way to stop our reliance on screens, doctors are now fighting fire with fire: finding ways that screens can actually prevent obesity. Dr. Amanda Staiano, a specialist in obesity and human behavior, says “Screens are everywhere in our lives . . . I’m looking for ways to use those screens to incorporate more physical activity.” And Dr. Staiano isn’t the only one looking to leverage screens to combat obesity: the chief of Duke University’s pediatric cardiology department says “We need to take advantage of social networking to connect with [children with obesity] because it is the way they are connecting with their friends.”

Doctors have explored the use of exercise video games (“exergames”), various mobile applications, and computerized training programs in the quest to fight obesity with screens, and the latest tool in this endeavor is video chat. Video chat is now being validated as a method of both preventing and treating obesity.

So how do we do it?

It’s long been understood that the key to weight loss is continuous in-person meetings with experts, along with establishing a strong support system for the patient. However, such in-person meetings are inconvenient and difficult to maintain. This is where video chat comes in. Virtual meetings are simpler and more convenient for all parties.

Researchers tested the use of support groups and meetings with experts via video chat on patients with Type 2 Diabetes and found that:

  • 56 percent lowered blood sugar to nondiabetic levels after 10 weeks

  • 90% had reduced or stopped the use of insulin

Significantly, 3/4 lost at least 5% of their body weight. After the trial ended, 90% continued the program and most lost even more weight. And the results weren’t merely physical: the study went on to find that those who used social programs to improve their diabetes saved about $14,000 over ten years. These significant findings represent not only the value in fighting obesity with social connectedness but also the role video chat can play in making things easier than ever.

And none of this is even to mention other weight-related conditions like heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and even some cancers, which make obesity second only to smoking as a preventable cause of death.

All of these conditions stem from being overweight, and clinical trials have proven that video chat can be an effective method of weight loss, with the Journal of Rural Health writing, “Thus far, weight control interventions delivered by videoconference have been shown to produce clinically meaningful weight losses.”

At we are both excited about the great strides video chat is making in weight loss, and actively participating in the implementation of video chat to affect positive health change. While our primary focus has been on combating social isolation, we’re hoping to contribute meaningfully in a number of ways, and already have clients who use video chat to keep organizational members physically active.

For more information about, visit our website. Or, if you’d like a free trial of a meeting room or event (no downloads, meeting IDs, or complicated hardware necessary), click the links in this sentence.