Consumers Conflicted About Tech Impact On Health

Fat-lady-Laptop-AIs Facebook making you fat?

A new global study from Interpublic Group’s McCann-Erickson has found that consumers have conflicting feelings about the impact of technology on their health and wellness. The digital era provides access to reams of information about how consumers can lead healthier lifestyles and diagnose health problems. But there’s also growing concern that computers and the rise of social networks promote the sedentary lifestyle that leads to obesity, a top health risk.

Some consumers do believe Facebook literally is making them fat, per the study, which found that 10% of respondents believe that the social network site is adding to their girth.

The numbers increase when all social networking is considered. Globally, 25% of young men and 17% of young women (aged 18-24) worry that their obsession with technology and social networking is encouraging more sedentary living and obesity.

But the confusion presents opportunities for brands, per the study, which found that 94% of consumers say brands have a role in supporting their wellness needs. Among the study’s recommendations: brands should sponsor at least one positive habit related to health and wellness. They should also find novel ways to enter the wellness conversation.

“There is an exciting technological revolution in the wellness arena today which is empowering consumers, and transforming our health,” stated Daryl Lee, McCann’s global chief strategy officer. “There has never been a better time for brands to lead positive change.”
The study also found that 21% believe doctors will be obsolete in the future. Globally, four in 10 people already feel more in control of their health as a direct result of technology, and a third trust technology more than their own instincts. But 66% believe that if doctors can focus more on preventing illness rather than curing it, they will continue to be valuable to consumers in the future.

Depression is the top diagnosis for so-called “cyberchondriacs,” or people who look for health information online, according to the study. After depression, cyberchondriacs are most likely to diagnose themselves with obesity-related illnesses, allergies and migraines, the study found.  

The study was conducted by agency research unit McCann Truth Central, which surveyed 7,000 consumers in eight countries, including the U.S., U.K., Brazil, Peru, China, Japan, South Africa and Turkey. The full study can be found here.



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