Relationship between social support and body mass index among overweight and obese African American women in the rural Deep South, 2011-2013

Academic Article

Abstract

  • Introduction: African American women in the Deep South of the United States are disproportionately obese, a condition strongly influenced by their social environment. The objective of this study was to characterize the prevalence of social support from family and friends for healthy eating and exercise in rural communities. Methods: This study is an analysis of a subgroup (N = 195) of overweight and obese African American women from a larger ongoing weight loss trial (N = 409) in rural communities of the Alabama Black Belt and Mississippi Delta. The Social Support and Eating Habits Survey and Social Support and Exercise Survey were used to measure support from family and friends for healthy eating and exercise, respectively. Linear regression was conducted to determine the association between social support factors and body mass index (BMI). Results: Concurrently prevalent in our sample were encouraging support for healthy eating (family, median,14.0; range, 5.0-25.0; friends, median, 13.0; range 5.0-25.0) and discouraging support for healthy eating (family, median, 12.0; range, 5.0-25.0; friends, median, 11.0; range, 5.0-25.0). Median scores for support for exercise received in the form of participation from family and friends were 24.0 (range 10.0-48.0) and 24.0 (range 10.0-50.0), respectively. The median score for support for exercise in the form of rewards and punishment from family was 3.0 (range, 3.0-11.0). Social support factors were not associated with BMI. Conclusion: Overweight and obese African American women in the rural Deep South experience minimal social support from family and friends for healthy eating and exercise. Given the evidence that social support promotes healthy behaviors, additional research on ways to increase support from family and friends is warranted.
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    Author List

  • Johnson ER; Carson TL; Affuso O; Hardy CM; Baskin ML
  • Volume

  • 11
  • Issue

  • 12