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Learn how to use your friends, family, even your phone and online communities for successful weight loss.

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Every facet of your social network—family, friends, even your local or virtual community—can influence your weight. Here’s how to work that to your advantage.

Your spouse. In a study in the International Journal of Obesity, when people joined a weight- loss group their spouses naturally lost about 3 percent of their body weight in a year. And since partners tend to share fluctuating waistlines, your spouse’s weight loss should help you stay slim too. A win-win.

Your phone. When people in a Finnish study texted their daily weight and received text messages with tips to cut calories and amp up exercise, they lost about 7½ pounds more in a year than those who didn’t. Ask a friend to text you daily or sign up for an online weight-loss program that includes daily text messages to help keep you on track.

Co-workers. One study found that when co-workers were put into two groups and competed together for the biggest weight loss, they dropped more weight than people who followed a worksite weight-loss program alone.

Your family. Eating with your kids may help you keep pounds off: one study found that adults with kids in the house who ate more family meals weighed less than those who ate separately from their kids.

Weight-loss groups. A structured in-person program that connects you with other dieters can boost your success. Though both groups lost weight, people who joined Weight Watchers lost twice as much as those who received a physician-guided plan, says one study in The Lancet medical journal.

Online communities. Prefer a virtual weight-loss group experience over an in-person meet up? Go for it—online support may help you lose too. Of course, you’ll get out of it what you put in— the more you use a weight-loss web site, the more likely you may be to lose weight, or maintain the pounds you lost.

Your friends. When friends participated in a group weight-loss program together, they lost more weight—and were more successful in keeping it off—than people who did the same program on their own, says research. Buddy up!


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