Weight Loss in Adolescent Females

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Friend and Family Support for Weight Loss in Adolescent Females

One-third of females age 12 to 19 years are overweight/obese,1 and secondary health conditions present a significant public health problem.2 Helping obese youth lose weight and maintain a healthy weight remains a priority, and important to reverse the trend of obesity that can develop into severe obesity before adulthood.3-5 Increasing social support for healthy weight-related behaviors may be one area in which to intervene, thereby improving targeted intervention efforts for youth
Weight loss involves changing diet and activity behaviors to promote negative energy balance, and social support may be helpful as people try to change behavior.Both source and type of support may be important. For adults, having more social support from family and friends is associated with positive diet and exercise behaviors.6-9 Earlier research among adolescents suggests that the relationship between support and physical activity may be inconsistent;10 however, more recent research has shown positive, consistent associations between social support and overall physical activity in both cross-sectional and longitudinal studies.11 With respect to healthy eating among adolescents, social support from friends, family, and teachers increases the likelihood of eating healthy foods,12 and parental encouragement has shown positive associations with fruit and vegetable consumption.13 However, less is known about the type or source of social support that is associated with better weight loss among adolescents and whether support for eating or exercise may be associated with success.
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Several weight loss studies have looked at the benefits of involving family and friends in weight loss efforts;14-16 however, little is known about the effects of naturally occurring support for weight loss. In the above studies, social support was tested through enrolling supportive partners with the index participant, pairing weight loss participants with others in the group, and specifically creating a supportive group environment. Naturally occurring social support is a type of unconstructed, informal social support provided by parents, siblings, and friends, and is different from formal, organized or constructed support that may be provided by doctors, nurses, clinicians, and educators. In a study of adults, Kiernan et al. found that there was not a direct dose-response relationship between amount of support in a person's existing network and weight loss success, such that those who had no support from friends at baseline and those who had the highest levels of support lost more weight than participants who reported some support.17Among adolescents, Kulik et al. 18 found that social support from weight loss group peers could be created during the course of a weight loss intervention; however, this support did not result in increased weight loss during the treatment phase of the intervention
The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between naturally occurring family and friend social support and weight loss among adolescents enrolled in a weight loss trial.
source: http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/chi.2015.0044

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