Adolescents' Preferences for Social Support for Healthful Eating and Physical Activity

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Objective:This study explored adolescents' views on the sources and types of social support they would prefer when trying to eat more healthfully and be more active, as well as their opinions regarding means of enhancing social support in interventions.Methods:A total of 28 adolescents (14 males, 14 females) ages 13 to 18 years participated in 4 focus groups that were stratified by gender and age to enhance participation.Results:As expected, participants most readily named parents and friends as important sources of support and described wanting instrumental and emotional support from parents, companionship and emotional support from friends, and informational support from professionals. The focus groups revealed rich information regarding parents' and peers' behaviors that are and are not received as emotionally supportive, the helpfulness of parents' concurrent changes in lifestyle, and the importance of parents not ignoring or colluding with unhealthful behavior. Most participants expressed a need for frequent contact and a trusting relationship with professionals. Opinions were mixed regarding inclusion of others in appointments, use of electronic communications and social media, and group treatment formats.Conclusion:Results have implications for enhancing social support in behavioral weight management interventions that are developmentally relevant for adolescents.

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