Social network body size is associated with body size norms of South Asian adults.Obes Med. 2018 Sep; 11:25-30.OM
To examine the association between social network body size and body size norms in South Asian adults.
Participants (n = 766) from the Mediators of Atherosclerosis in South Asians Living in America (MASALA) study (2014-2018) provided detailed information about their five closest network members. Participants' perceptions of their network members' body sizes, their own body size (self-body size), and a healthy body size for men and women (body size norms) were assessed using the Stunkard 9-figure scale. Adjusted hierarchical linear regression models were used to examine associations between the average body size of network members and perceived body size norms.
Participants' average age was 59.1 years (SD = 9.2) and 44.1% were women. Participants reported an average network body size of 4.0 (SD = 1.1). The average body size norm for male and female Stunkard images was 3.6 (SD = 1.0) and 3.4 (SD = 0.8), respectively. Social network body size was positively associated with increasing body size norms (β-coefficient = 0.31, 95% CI: 0.26, 0.36), independent of self-body size.
Social networks may influence body size norms in South Asian adults. Long-term follow up of the MASALA cohort will determine if social network body size and body size norms are associated with weight- control behaviors and weight change.