The role of social support in weight loss
Snyder, Joni Marie.
Thesis (M.P.P.)--Georgetown University, 2009.; Includes bibliographical references. Two-thirds of adult Americans are overweight or obese. Obesity increases an individual's risk for heart disease, type II diabetes, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, and certain types of cancers. Doctors report that even a modest weight loss of ten percent of one's body weight can greatly reduce these risk factors. This study examines the effect of social support on weight loss among obese Americans who reported losing weight over a one-year period. The data for the analysis come from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's 2007 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), an annual survey that measures the health-related behaviors of adult Americans. The concept of social support is captured in the survey question, "How often do you receive the social and emotional support your need?" Respondents' weight loss is measured two ways: with a binary variable that captures whether or not they reached the ten percent benchmark and a continuous variable that represents the actual percentage of weight lost. To determine the effect of social support on weight loss, this study uses bivariate analyses of the various factors that determine an individual's weight as well as regression anaylsis of the marginal effects of social support on the two measures of weight loss. Using the available data, this study was not able to detect an effect of the social support variables on weight loss. However, given that previous empirical studies suggest that weight loss efforts can benefit from increased social support, the question deserves further investigation.
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