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Perceived Social Support and Its Association With Obesity-Specific Health-Related Quality of Life

Herzer, Michele PhD; Zeller, Meg H. PhD; Rausch, Joseph R. PhD; Modi, Avani C. PhD

Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: April 2011 - Volume 32 - Issue 3 - p 188-195
doi: 10.1097/DBP.0b013e318208f576
Original Article
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Objective: To (1) describe type and source of social support perceived by obese youth and examine associations with sociodemographic/anthropometric characteristics, and (2) examine relationships between social support and obesity-specific health-related quality of life (HRQOL).

Methods: Seventy-four obese youth and their primary caregivers participated. Youth completed the Child and Adolescent Social Support Scale and an obesity-specific HRQOL measure, Sizing Me Up.

Results: Close friends and parents provided the most social support and were rated most important, except for teacher informational support. Classmates and schools provided the least social support. Body mass index z-score was correlated with teacher support frequency (r = −.26, p < .05) and minority youth reported more parent support (t(72) = −2.21, p < .05). Compared with other support providers, classmate support significantly predicted most HRQOL scales (p < .001).

Conclusions: Close friends, parents, and teachers are significant sources of support to youth with obesity; however, classmates play a unique role in the HRQOL of obese youth.

From the Division of Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH.

Received August 2010; accepted November 2010.

This research was funded by the National Institutes of Health grants T32 DK063929 (to A.M.) and K23-DK60031 (to M.Z.). Additional resources were provided by the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center—General Clinical Research Center, which is supported in part by USPHS grant M01 RR 08084 from the General Clinical Research Centers Program, National Center for Research Resources/NIH.

Address for reprints: Michele Herzer, PhD, Sections of Developmental & Behavioral Sciences and Gastroenterology, Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, 2401 Gillham Road, Kansas City, MO 64108; e-mail: mherzer@cmh.edu.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.