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

ile 137 were considered overweight or obese (BMI of 25 or greater). The majority of participants were female and Caucasian. All participants completed questionnaires to determine their weight and height, number of overweight social contacts (including best friends, romantic partners, casual friends, relatives and colleagues/classmates) and perceived social norms for obesity and obesity-related behaviors.

Overweight and obese study participants completed additional questionnaires to assess how many of their overweight social contacts were currently trying to lose weight, perceived social norms for weight loss (such as how frequently social contacts encouraged them to lose weight or whether the people closest to them would approve if they were to lose weight), and intentions to lose weight within the next three months.

Compared to normal weight young adults, those who were overweight or obese were more likely to have an overweight romantic partner (25 percent vs. 14 percent) and an overweight best friend (24 percent vs. 14 percent). "Our data suggests that obesity 'clusters' in this population. But interestingly, social norms for obesity did not differ between the two groups and did not account for the clustering," said Leahey. "Both groups reported similarly low levels of social acceptability for being overweight, eating unhealthy foods and being inactive."

The study also showed overweight and obese young adults who had more social contacts trying to lose weight were more likely to want to lose weight themselves. Social norms for weight loss, such as encouragement and approval from social contacts, account for this association, researchers say.


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Contact: Jessica Collins Grimes
jgrimes2@lifespan.org
Lifespan
Source:Eurekalert

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