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social norms, social support, weight loss, health communication
As obesity rates have increased in the past decade, interpersonal communication about weight has taken on greater importance. In this study, we investigate normative beliefs about weight loss communication and the social support provided through such communication. A sample of N = 196 college students reported that they considered weight loss communication to be non-normative in the United States, but that they had positive attitudes toward such communication. In addition, they felt that they would be likely to engage in such conversations themselves. When given the opportunity to respond to a hypothetical weight loss communication scenario, 93% of participants provided a response. Their responses included both action-facilitating and nurturant support, and often blended the two forms of support together. In addition, participants’ responses emphasized health, rather than weight loss alone. Building on results from this study, future health communication campaigns regarding weight loss could aim to a) increase the perception of weight loss communication as normative, b) emphasize health rather than weight loss alone, and c) provide examples of how social support is communicated in this context.
International Journal of Communication and Health
Copyright © 2013 the Author(s)
Anderson, Jennifer; Cornacchlone, Jennifer; and Maloney, Erin K., "Normative Beliefs and Social Support in Weight Loss Communication" (2013). Communication Studies Publications. 21.