Family Support in Nutrition and Weight Management
Social support of family members may be a useful strategy for sustained behavioral changes in nutrition and weight management. Such programs incorporate the family in the treatment process which often centers on decreasing excess caloric intake, increasing physical activity and improving diet quality. In addition, these programs include training in behavior change methods such as self-monitoring and goal-setting (1). A recent review indicated that family social support in a weight loss programs was more effective than control coinditions (2). Aspects of family social support including the warmth of family interactions, emotional bonding between family members (3), and overall family satisfaction have been associated with improved health behaviors (4). Studies on family warmth measuring connectedness, caring, and nurturing have demonstrated positive associations with adolescent health behaviors including lower levels of caloric intake (5), greater frequency of eating breakfast (6), and higher intake of fruits and vegetables (6,7). Positive family social support also improved self-esteem and body satisfaction (8), while reducing negative weight control behaviors such as skipping meals. These findings suggest that family functioning variables should further be explored in the context of health behavior change programs.
- Berkel LA, Carlos Poston WS, Reeves RS, Foreyt JP. Behavioral interventions for obesity. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2005;105(5) Suppl 1:35–43.
- Kitzmann KM, Beech BM. Family-based interventions for pediatric obesity: Methodological and conceptual challenges from family psychology. Journal of Family Psychology. 2006;20(2):175–189.
- Snyder DK, Cozzi JJ, Mangrum LF. Conceptual issues in assessing couples and families. In: Liddle HA, Santisteban DA, Levant RF, Bray JH, editors. Family psychology: Science based interventions. Washington DC: APA; 2002.
- White MA, Martin PD, Newton RL, Walden HM, York-Crowe EE, Gordon ST, et al. Mediators of weight loss in a family-based intervention presented over the internet. Obesity Research. 2004;12(7):1050–1059
- Kitzman-Ulrich H, Hampson R, Wilson DK, Presnell K, Brown A, O’Boyle M. An adolescent weight-loss program integrating family variables reduces energy intake. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2009;109(3):491–496
- Mellin AE, Neumark-Sztainer D, Story M, Ireland M, Resnick MD. Unhealthy behaviors and psychosocial difficulties among overweight adolescents: The potential impact of familial factors. The Journal of Adolescent Health. 2002;31(2):145–153.
- Neumark-Sztainer D, Story M, Resnick MD, Blum RW. Correlates of inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption among adolescents. Preventive Medicine. 1996;25(5):497–505.
- Fulkerson JA, Strauss J, Neumark-Sztainer D, Story M, Boutelle K. Correlates of psychosocial well-being among overweight adolescents: The role of the family. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 2007;75(1):181–186.