Celebrities have less influence than friends where people want to try a new diet or exercise programme.
A friend who is using a successful wellness programme is more likely to get other friends to sign up too.
“People want to see that positive influence” says Lora Cavuoto, an occupation health researcher at the University of Buffalo.
The research spread the word about successful programmes through social networks.
People in the networks linked to someone who successfully lost weight or had a high body mass index produced the largest total weight loss among peers.
The results showed that celebrities with a large followings are less likely to influence dieters than everyday people who have benefitted from a new diet or workout.
“Your ties and social contacts may have a bigger effect because you see them every day and you have that close connection,” says Cavuoto.
“If they can be successful, then that’s your best way of getting information out that a programme is good.”
The study “Modeling the Spread of an Obesity Intervention through a Social Network,” is published in the Journal of Healthcare Engineering.