Sociodemographic, Attitudinal, and Behavioral Correlates of Using Nutrition, Weight Loss, and Fitness Websites: An Online Survey
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feeding and eating disorders
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JournalJournal of medical Internet research
AbstractBACKGROUND: Nutrition, diet, and fitness are among the most searched health topics by internet users. Besides that, health-related internet users are diverse in their motivations and individual characteristics. However, little is known about the individual characteristics associated with the usage of nutrition, weight loss, and fitness websites. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to examine the individual factors associated with the usage of nutrition, weight loss, and fitness websites. METHODS: An invitation to an online survey was published on 65 websites and discussion forums. In total, we employed data from 623 participants (aged 13 to 39 years, mean 24.11 [SD 5.26]). The measures included frequency of usage of nutrition, weight loss and fitness websites, excessive exercise, eating disorder symptomatology, internalization of the beauty ideal, weight status, and perceived online social support. Participants' data were used as predictors in a base linear regression model. RESULTS: The final model had an acceptable fit (χ210 =14.1; P=.17; root mean square error of approximation=0.03; comparative fit index=0.99; Tucker-Lewis index=0.99). Positive associations were found between usage of (1) nutrition websites and being female, higher levels of excessive exercise, and perceived online social support; (2) weight loss websites and excessive exercise, internalization, being female, eating disorder symptomatology, and being overweight or obese; and (3) fitness websites and levels of excessive exercise, internalization, and frequency of internet use. CONCLUSIONS: The results highlighted the importance of individual differences in the usage of health-related websites.
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