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Types of Social Support and Weight Change among Overweight Adults: 209 Board #30 May 31 11: 00 AM - 12: 30 PM

Monroe, Courtney M.; Larsen, Chelsea; West, Delia

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: May 2017 - Volume 49 - Issue 5S - p 37
doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000516919.47398.86
A-40 Free Communication/Poster - Activity Interventions and Programming in Adults I Wednesday, May 31, 2017, 7:30 AM - 12:30 PM Room: Hall F

University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC. (Sponsor: Sara Wilcox, FACSM)


(No relationships reported)

Engaging social support has been found to be an effective strategy to promote weight loss. Yet, little is known about the specific types of social support that may be the most influential.

PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to examine the association between weight change and the types of social support adults participating in a behavioral weight loss intervention identified as the most helpful for their weight loss efforts.

METHODS: Overweight adults (N=36) were randomized to one of two, 16-week behavioral weight loss interventions. Both treatments consisted of weekly, in-person group counseling sessions, Fitbit Zips for monitoring physical activity, and scales for monitoring body weight. One group also received two extra Fitbit Zips and scales to share with up to two persons in their social circle. There were no significant differences between conditions, so analyses collapsed groups and examined those who started the intervention (N=35). Participants completed an online survey at the end of each intervention week, which asked them to select the most helpful type of social support they received (informational; tangible; network; emotional; esteem). The support type identified the most frequently as the most helpful type over time was determined for each participant and used in Fisher’s exact tests to measure the frequencies with which each type of support was reported between those who lost > 5% of their initial body weight and those who did not.

RESULTS: Participants were obese at baseline (M BMI = 36.1 + 7.3 kg/m2), and 43% lost > 5% of their initial weight by 16 weeks. Only emotional, esteem, and tangible support emerged as the most frequently reported most helpful types of support among all participants across the intervention period. A greater proportion of those who lost > 5% of their baseline weight identified esteem support as the most helpful type of support versus those who lost < 5% of their initial weight (47% vs 10%, p = .02). No significant differences between weight change groups were found for other support types (ps > .05).

CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that esteem support may be especially influential for fostering weight loss. However, future studies should employ designs that allow for the direct comparison and more robust evaluation of the effectiveness of different types of support on weight loss in adults.

© 2017 American College of Sports Medicine