The role of the individual often comes to the foreground in social discussions. For example, when learning about wellness, goal-setting, accountability, and success, you have likely encountered the popular ideal of a single person achieving victory with no one else’s help or support. In this scenario, this triumphant person stands alone, utterly unmoved by the thoughts and actions of everyone else. Additionally, the understanding of the importance of connections and community ends up falling by the wayside.
A recent Ask IFAS publication from the UF/IFAS Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences provides examples of social networks and important resources, discusses factors that can contribute to obesity, and explores the ways personal relationships can support—or disrupt—weight management.
It isn’t only a matter of diet and exercise.
According to the publication, social networks may support weight management efforts by providing companionship, support, recommendations, accountability, and motivation. Your weight management goals may likewise inspire those close to you to commit to their own healthy lifestyle journeys.
Unfortunately, relationships may also act as sources of peer pressure. Those close to you may expect you to stick to social norms, or encourage increased eating via social cues. Consider your best friend who always has a multitude of cookies to share at holiday parties and pushes everyone to take home two dozen or more, or your cousin who routinely disparages the group exercise class you love.
Wherever you are in your weight management journey, you may find helpful ways to leverage your social networks in this publication.
For more information on family and consumer issues, social networks, and obesity, Ask IFAS.