Obesity in children remains a major public health issue. A growing body of evidence suggests that social networks present a viable way to improve the situation. The following literature review aims to evaluate evidence of the effectiveness of SNS-based interventions based on available qualitative and quantitative studies.
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Comparison of Research Questions
The academic literature included in the review follows both qualitative and quantitative approaches. However, none of the quantitative studies included in the paper present a clearly formulated hypothesis. Instead, the articles rely on research questions as is more common in a qualitative approach.
Among the studies selected, a randomized controlled trial by Napolitano, Hayes, Bennett, Ives, and Foster (2013) aimed at determining the feasibility of SNS-based interventions for college students with obesity. Similarly, a study by Valle, Tate, Mayer, Allicock, and Cai (2013) evaluated the feasibility of a Facebook-based intervention compared to a self-help–based program. Whittemore, Jeon, and Grey (2013), in turn, compared the effectiveness of several Internet-based interventions and explored the variances of each.
Finally, Sampasa-Kanyinga, Chaput, and Hamilton (2015) incorporated two-stage cluster design to investigate the relationship between the use of SNS and the formation of unhealthy eating habits among adolescents. Furthermore, three of the four quantitative studies used two or more population groups to obtain quantifiable results. Thus, it is possible to consider the research questions formulated by the research team as relevant for the project at hand.
The remaining sources include qualitative studies such as systematic literature reviews and scientific statements. All the studies under discussion stated clearly formulated research questions that ensured the necessary focus of the inquiry and provided results with a reasonable degree of accuracy. The research questions focused on the effectiveness of specific types of obesity-related interventions, explored the validity of social networking strategies for obesity reduction, and summarized the current understanding of the topic of interest. All the papers included in the literature review fully answered the research questions and substantiated their conclusions with relevant findings. Thus, it is reasonable to conclude that all the studies under consideration are relevant for the purpose of the project.
Comparison of Sample Populations
The sources included in the paper rely on a number of sources for data collection. All four quantitative studies draw on primary data obtained in school, college, and clinical settings. The largest of the samples includes data from 10,272 respondents (Sampasa-Kanyinga et al., 2015). In this case, data collection was conducted through self-administered surveys, one of the most cost-effective approaches. However, such a method relies on subjective data, which may compromise the validity of findings.
The remaining quantitative studies offer significantly smaller samples of 384, 86, and 52 participants (Napolitano et al., 2013; Valle et al., 2013; Whittemore et al., 2013). Despite the significant quantitative difference, such sample sizes are sufficient for randomized controlled trials performed on representative samples.
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All the qualitative studies for the project relied on secondary data obtained from available academic literature. Two of the systematic literature reviews were based on 12 sources, whereas one incorporated 17 studies for analysis. All the articles specify the total number of participants, ranging from 941 to 7,411. Admittedly, it is not possible to determine the validity of findings based on this information since different sources likely have different weight, and this should be acknowledged in the analysis. Nevertheless, it is reasonable to consider the conclusions valid based on the use of exclusion criteria in each case.
Finally, the scientific statement paper employed six RCTs as sources of data. In this case, the small size of the sample is mitigated by the uniformity of data obtained from carefully selected RCTs. As can be seen, all the sources involve samples of sufficient size. Importantly, some of the populations (e.g., college students) are only marginally relevant for the purpose of the project. Nevertheless, they provide necessary insights that can be incorporated into the intervention at hand.
Comparison of Limitations
Finally, it is necessary to acknowledge the limitations of the specified studies. For instance, the study by Valle et al. (2013) did not contain a true control group, relying instead on two interventions applied separately to sample populations. The short duration of a study can be another limitation that reduces the generalizability of the study. The article by Sampasa-Kanyinga et al. (2015) was not fully representative due to the focus on specific school type.
In addition, the cross-sectional design of their study did not allow establishing the causality of the effect. The quantitative research by Whittemore et al. (2013) lacked a number of factors (e.g., teacher enthusiasm and technology expertise) that could impact the outcome of the intervention. Finally, Napolitano et al. (2013) did not track several potentially significant variables, such as duration of social network sessions, and focused only on active participation, omitting other types of interactions. All four qualitative studies cite limitations in terms of sources and the inability to determine the weight of the findings. Overall, the quality of evidence from each of the sources is sufficient for the project at hand.
All the articles used for the literature review are relevant for the purpose of the project. The studies fully answered the formulated research questions, relied on appropriate sample populations, and responsibly addressed known limitations. Further research is recommended that incorporates the omitted variables in the study design in order to refine the current understanding of SNS-based interventions targeting obesity in children.
Napolitano, M. A., Hayes, S., Bennett, G. G., Ives, A. K., & Foster, G. D. (2013). Using Facebook and text messaging to deliver a weight loss program to college students. The Obesity Society, 21(1), 25-31.
Sampasa-Kanyinga, H., Chaput, J. P., & Hamilton, H. A. (2015). Associations between the use of social networking sites and unhealthy eating behaviors and excess body weight in adolescents. British Journal of Nutrition, 114(11), 1941-1947.
Valle, C. G., Tate, D. F., Mayer, D. K., Allicock, M., & Cai, J. (2013). A randomized trial of a Facebook-based physical activity intervention for young adult cancer survivors. Journal of Cancer Survivorship, 7(3), 355-368.
Whittemore, R., Jeon, S., & Grey, M. (2013). An internet obesity prevention program for adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health, 52(4), 439-447.