Social Support Important When Making Lifestyle Changes
Patients trying to live a healthier lifestyle may be more successful if they are supported by their family, friends, and coworkers, according to the results of a recent study.
The study, published in the September 2014 issue of Obesity, analyzed the effects of social relationships on a group of public high school employees participating in a weight gain prevention intervention. Participants completed surveys on the support their family, friends, and coworkers gave for healthy eating and exercising.
After adjusting for other factors, friend and coworker support for healthy eating and family support for exercising were associated with weight loss at 2 years. Individuals who received a high level of support from their friends and coworkers for healthy eating lost an estimated 0.15 and 0.11 kg, respectively, for each unit increase in support scores. Those who were supported by their families to exercise lost an average of 0.032 kg for each unit increase in support scores.
In contrast, when family members undermined healthy eating habits, participants showed weight gain at the 2-year mark.
“Interventions that help adults navigate family social undermining of healthy eating are warranted,” the authors recommend.