Examining social influence on participation and outcomes among a network of behavioral weight-loss intervention enrollees

Academic Article


  • Research suggests that social networks, social support, and social influence are associated with weight trajectories among treatment- and non-treatment-seeking individuals. This study examined the impact of having a social contact who participated in the same group behavioral weight-control intervention in the absence of specific social support training on women engaged in a weight-loss program. Participants (n=92; 100% female; 54% black; mean age: 46±10 years; mean BMI: 38±6) were grouped based upon whether or not they reported a social contact enrolled previously/concurrently in our behavioral weight-control studies. Primary outcomes were 6-month weight change and treatment adherence (session attendance and self-monitoring). Half of the participants (53%) indicated that they had a social contact; black women were more likely to report a social contact than white women (67.3% versus 39.5%; P<0.01). Among participants with a social contact, 67% reported at least one contact as instrumental in the decision to enroll in the program. Those with a contact lost more weight (5.9 versus 3.7 kg; P=0.04), attended more group sessions (74% versus 54%; P<0.01), and submitted more self-monitoring journals (69% versus 54%; P=0.01) than those without a contact. Participants' weight change was inversely associated with social contacts' weight change (P=0.04). There was no association between participant and contact's group attendance or self-monitoring. Social networks may be a promising vehicle for recruiting and engaging women in a behavioral weight-loss program, particularly black women. The role of a natural social contact deserves further investigation. © 2013 T. L. Carson et al.
  • Published In

  • Journal of Obesity  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Carson TL; Eddings KE; Krukowski RA; Love SJ; Harvey-Berino JR; West DS
  • Volume

  • 2013