Relation of social network support to child health behaviors among children in treatment for overweight/obesity

Lauren A. Fowler, Mark D. Litt, Sophia A. Rotman, Rachel P.Kolko Conlon, Jessica Jakubiak, Richard I. Stein, Katherine N. Balantekin, R. Robinson Welch, Michael G. Perri, Leonard H. Epstein, Denise E. Wilfley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Little is known about the influence of social network support on child health behaviors in the context of weight-loss interventions. This study examined the associations between a child’s co-participation (i.e., network support) in weight-related health behaviors (i.e., physical and sedentary activity, eating behavior) and the child’s own health behaviors during family-based behavioral treatment (FBT). Methods: Children (n = 241) with overweight/obesity (mean age = 9.4 ± 1.3y; 63% female) completed semi-structured interviews assessing network support for healthy/unhealthy eating and physical/sedentary activity, and a 3-day dietary recall. Physical activity was assessed with accelerometry, and sedentary activity was measured via parent-reported child screen time use. All assessments were taken at baseline and after 4 months of FBT. Hierarchical linear regressions examined changes in network support as they related to changes in health behaviors from baseline to the end of FBT. Results: Changes in network support for healthy eating were related to changes in vegetable, but not fruit, intake across FBT, while changes in network support for unhealthy eating were negatively related to changes in diet quality. Changes in network support for sedentary activity were negatively related to changes in minutes of physical activity and positively related to changes in screen time. Conclusion: The present findings suggest that a child’s network support for health behaviors may relate to behavior change among children during FBT and provide opportunities for targeted intervention. Level of evidence: III.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1669-1678
Number of pages10
JournalEating and Weight Disorders
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • Health behaviors
  • Measurement
  • Pediatric obesity
  • Social network support
  • Treatment


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