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Family, friends, social ties influence weight status in young adults
Date:1/11/2011

PROVIDENCE, RI Does obesity tend to "cluster" among young adults? And if so, what impact does it have on both their weight and weight-related behaviors? That's what researchers from The Miriam Hospital's Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center set out to answer to better understand how social influences affect both weight status and weight loss intentions in this difficult-to-reach age group.

According to the study, published online by the journal Obesity, overweight and obese young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 were more likely to have overweight romantic partners and best friends and also had more overweight casual friends and family members compared to normal weight peers. Also, overweight and obese young adults who reported having social contacts trying to lose weight had greater weight loss intentions.

Why is this an important issue? Forty percent of young adults age 18-25 are considered overweight or obese, and young adults experience the highest rate of weight gain per year typically one to two pounds of any age group. While previous research has consistently demonstrated the powerful impact of social influence on health behaviors, especially for younger individuals, no previous study has examined whether social ties influence weight status and weight loss intentions among young adults.

Lead author Tricia Leahey, PhD, a researcher with The Miriam Hospital's Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center, also points out that young adults are less likely to participate in behavioral weight loss interventions, and when they do, they tend to lose less weight than older adults. "Identifying the factors that influence both weight status and weight control in this high-risk age group can help us develop appealing and effective obesity treatment and prevention programs for this population," she said.

The study included 288 young adults between the ages of 18 and 25; 151 individuals were of normal weight, wh
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Contact: Jessica Collins Grimes
jgrimes2@lifespan.org
Lifespan
Source:Eurekalert

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