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Weight Linked to Response to Weight-Loss Solicitations

Last Updated: January 11, 2010.

Young adults who believe they have weight problems were more likely to open "spam" e-mails regarding weight loss and buy products from them, according to research published in the January issue of the Southern Medical Journal.

MONDAY, Jan. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Young adults who believe they have weight problems were more likely to open "spam" e-mails regarding weight loss and buy products from them, according to research published in the January issue of the Southern Medical Journal.

Joshua Fogel, Ph.D., of Brooklyn College in New York, and Sam Shlivko, of the New York Law School in New York City, analyzed data from a convenience sample of 200 college students who indicated whether they believed they had a weight problem; provided information on their history of receiving spam e-mails for weight loss or ordering from them; and answered questions on self-esteem and stress.

The researchers found that those with weight problems were significantly more likely to receive weight-loss e-mails than those without weight problems, but more than 70 percent of both groups received such e-mails. Having weight problems was associated with opening spam e-mail and buying products from it (odds ratios, 3.10 and 3.38, respectively).

"Physicians, psychologists, dieticians, nurses, exercise physiologists, or other health care providers who assess, counsel, and treat individuals for weight concerns should discuss with their patients the potential risks of opening and/or purchasing from spam e-mail. They should emphasize to their patients the importance of working together with a health care professional in coordinating care when considering the use of weight loss products," the authors conclude.

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