Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Friendship Influences Eating Behavior, Particularly When Friends Are Overweight

Date:
August 5, 2009
Source:
University at Buffalo
Summary:
A new study of childhood obesity in the United States has found that some social factors, such as the presence of friends, may put overweight youths at greater risk of overeating.

A new study of childhood obesity in the United States has found that some social factors, such as the presence of friends, may put overweight youths at greater risk of overeating.

Related Articles


The research, published in the August issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, demonstrates that friends may act as "permission givers" on children's food intake.

"These results are important, considering the role of friends as agents of change in childhood and adolescence," said Sarah Salvy, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Division of Behavioral Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

"Overweight children are more likely to find food more reinforcing than non-overweight youth," she continued. "Being in the company of overweight peers may give them the permission to eat more or may decrease their inhibitions, increasing what are seen as the norms of appropriate eating, or how much one should eat."

The study involved 23 overweight and 42 normal weight children between the ages of 9 and 15, who were randomized to participate with either a friend or an unfamiliar person of a similar age. After randomization, there were 33 friend pairs and 39 "unfamiliar" pairs.

Before taking part in the study experiment, participants listed what they had eaten in the past 24 hours to make sure they hadn't eaten anything during the previous two hours, and rated their hunger level.

Each participant pair spent 45 minutes in a room equipped with games, puzzles and individual bowls of low-calorie, "nutrient dense" baby carrots and grapes, and high-calorie "energy-dense" potato chips and cookies. The children were told they could eat as much or as little as they wanted, but were asked to eat from their own bowls only.

Researchers observed the children via closed-circuit television and recorded their activities. At the end of the session, they weighed the snacks that weren't eaten to determine how much each participant had consumed and to calculate calories.

Results showed that friends who ate together consumed more food than participants who were paired with someone they didn't know, and that friends were more likely to eat similar amounts than participants paired with a stranger.

However, overweight children who were paired with an overweight peer, whether friend or stranger, ate more than the overweight participants who were paired with a normal weight youth.

"These findings indicate that both overweight and normal weight participants eating with a friend ate significantly more than did participants eating in the presence of an unfamiliar peer," Salvy said. "These results are consistent with research in adults, which showed that eating among friends and family is distinctly different than eating among strangers.

"Given the impact of friends on eating behavior, it appears that if we hope to change the growing obesity epidemic among children, friends and family need to be involved," said Salvy. "If the environment in which children live doesn't change -- if family meals remain high calorie and overeating is the norm -- any progress children may make in their eating behavior won't last."

Salvy currently is investigating the influence of a parent versus a friend on children's and adolescents' eating behavior.

Marlana Howard and Erica Mele, UB bachelor's degree candidates who worked with Salvy, and Margaret Read, UB senior research specialist, also contributed to the study.

The research was supported by a grant to Salvy from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University at Buffalo. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University at Buffalo. "Friendship Influences Eating Behavior, Particularly When Friends Are Overweight." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 August 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090803185718.htm>.
University at Buffalo. (2009, August 5). Friendship Influences Eating Behavior, Particularly When Friends Are Overweight. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090803185718.htm
University at Buffalo. "Friendship Influences Eating Behavior, Particularly When Friends Are Overweight." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090803185718.htm (accessed November 29, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Rural India's Low-Cost Sanitary Pad Revolution

Rural India's Low-Cost Sanitary Pad Revolution

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) — One man hopes his invention -– a machine that produces cheap sanitary pads –- will help empower Indian women. Duration: 01:51 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) — In Africa's only biosafety level 4 laboratory, scientists have been carrying out experiments on bats to understand how virus like Ebola are being transmitted, and how some of them resist to it. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO Says Male Ebola Survivors Should Abstain From Sex

WHO Says Male Ebola Survivors Should Abstain From Sex

Newsy (Nov. 28, 2014) — WHO cites four studies that say Ebola can still be detected in semen up to 82 days after the onset of symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

AFP (Nov. 27, 2014) — The Ebola epidemic sweeping Sierra Leone is having a profound effect on the country's children, many of whom have been left without any family members to support them. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins