Weight and Weight Control Behaviors of Latinas and Their Social Ties

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Objective: Shared behaviors have been implicated in the clustering of obesity among socially connected people. This study determined how weight and weight control behaviors of participants and their social ties are related and how these factors are associated with weight change in participants. Method: Adult Latinas participating in a lifestyle intervention completed an egocentric network measure of weight and weight control behaviors. Participant weight was objectively measured at baseline and 12 months. Multivariable regression models determined the relationship between weight and weight control behaviors of participants and their social ties. Results: Participants and their social ties shared similarities in weight control behaviors and weight change. Participants who reported social ties that had lost weight were more likely to eat small portions and low-fat foods, but those with social ties that had gained weight were more likely to use herbal supplements. Participants who reported more social ties who exercised, drank liquid meal replacements, took herbal supplements, and self-weighed were more likely to lose weight whereas those with fewer social ties that exercised were more likely to gain weight. Weight loss and weight gain by social ties predicted participant weight loss and weight gain, respectively. Conclusions: Given that weight and weight control behaviors of Latinas reflect that of their social ties, targeting existing social networks for lifestyle interventions may more effectively improve and sustain health-promoting behaviors and outcomes.

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