Dr Laurie Balbo, Dr Marie-Christine Lichtlé and their doctoral candidate Steffie Gallin received the price for best scientific paper at the 2016 Agri-Food Marketing Day in Montpellier!


The IAE's 11th Agri-Food Marketing Day was organised in Montpellier, bringing together researchers and practitioners around the problems of marketing and consumer behaviour in the food industry. On this occasion, Dr Laurie Balbo, Marketing Lecturer at Montpellier BS, as well as Dr Marie-Christine Lichtlé, Management Lecturer at the Université de Montpellier and their doctoral candidate Steffie Gallin presented a paper called The positive and negative effects of online weight-loss support communities: opinions of nutritional experts and of online community users, for which they recently received the "Best Paper Award" of this day!

Dr Balbo knows the field of health very well: in 2011 she already published a thesis entitled Health communication: the effect of framing the message and the announced objective (prevention versus screening) and mediation through valence of mental imagery, research work looking into the type of focalisation - to lose or even acquire behaviour - to be used in health communication in order to increase its efficiency. This thesis in particular earned her the BVA Grand Prize for Marketing Research and the thesis prize from the French Marketing Association!

For the past two years now, Dr Laurie Balbo has been the co-supervisor for the thesis of Steffie Gallin (who was a research assistant at Montpellier BS for 2 years). This thesis is aimed at understanding what the effects are (both positive and negative) of online weight-loss support communities (for example, Weight Watchers). This topic is very current, especially with the democratisation of the Internet and social networks. "Obesity and excess weight affect a large number of individuals," explains Dr Balbo. "But at the same time, social norms push individuals to become slimmer, and lead them to develop a "self" representation which they think should be an "ought self" in the words of Higgins (1997). To find motivation and encouragement in this desire to lose weight, more and more people are thus exchanging views in small communities, whether they are real or online. Steffie Gallin's thesis thus aims to answer the following question: do these support groups really help in losing weight?"

This study was approached in the form of a comparison. "First of all, we drew a parallel between the ‘face-to-face’ communities and the online communities in order to highlight their similarities and differences. We then went into depth on the impact of these types of communities by on the one hand looking at the opinions of nutritional experts and on the other, the opinions of the users of these communities," specify the three authors.

"We are all three very proud of having received this distinction, it is an excellent recognition of the work Steffie has done for the past 2 years, but I imagine that it was not easy for the jury to choose as all the papers on that day were particularly interesting!"

Montpellier BS congratulates Dr Laurie Balbo, Dr Marie-Christine Lichtlé and especially their doctoral candidate Steffie Gallin on this wonderful reward!