UMass Chan Medical School Faculty Publications


Influence of family, friend and coworker social support and social undermining on weight gain prevention among adults

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine; University of Massachusetts Worcester Prevention Research Center

Publication Date


Document Type



Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Health Psychology | Psychiatry and Psychology


OBJECTIVE: Examine longitudinal associations between sources of social support and social undermining for healthy eating and physical activity and weight change.

METHODS: Data are from 633 employed adults participating in a cluster-randomized multilevel weight gain prevention intervention. Primary predictors included social support and social undermining for two types of behaviors (healthy eating and physical activity) from three sources (family, friends, and coworkers) obtained via self-administered surveys. The primary outcome (weight in kg) was measured by trained staff. Data were collected at baseline, 12 months, and 24 months. Linear multivariable models examined the association of support and social undermining with weight over time, adjusting for intervention status, time, gender, age, education, and clustering of individuals within schools.

RESULTS: Adjusting for all primary predictors and covariates, friend support for healthy eating (beta = -0.15), coworker support for healthy eating (beta = -0.11), and family support for physical activity (beta = -0.032) were associated with weight reduction at 24 months (P-values < 0.05). Family social undermining for healthy eating was associated with weight gain at 24 months (beta = 0.12; P = 0.0019).

CONCLUSIONS: Among adult employees, friend and coworker support for healthy eating and family support for physical activity predicted improved weight management. Interventions that help adults navigate family social undermining of healthy eating are warranted.

DOI of Published Version



Obesity (Silver Spring). 2014 Sep;22(9):1973-80. doi: 10.1002/oby.20814. Epub 2014 Jun 19. Link to article on publisher's site

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.)

PubMed ID