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. 2018 Sep;11:25-30.
doi: 10.1016/j.obmed.2018.06.001. Epub 2018 Jun 30.

Social Network Body Size Is Associated With Body Size Norms of South Asian Adults

Free PMC article

Social Network Body Size Is Associated With Body Size Norms of South Asian Adults

Nicola Lancki et al. Obes Med. .
Free PMC article


Aims: To examine the association between social network body size and body size norms in South Asian adults.

Methods: Participants (n = 766) from the Mediators of Atherosclerosis in South Asians Living in America (MASALA) study (2014-2018) provided detailed information about their five closest network members. Participants' perceptions of their network members' body sizes, their own body size (self-body size), and a healthy body size for men and women (body size norms) were assessed using the Stunkard 9-figure scale. Adjusted hierarchical linear regression models were used to examine associations between the average body size of network members and perceived body size norms.

Results: Participants' average age was 59.1 years (SD = 9.2) and 44.1% were women. Participants reported an average network body size of 4.0 (SD = 1.1). The average body size norm for male and female Stunkard images was 3.6 (SD = 1.0) and 3.4 (SD = 0.8), respectively. Social network body size was positively associated with increasing body size norms (β-coefficient = 0.31, 95% CI: 0.26, 0.36), independent of self-body size.

Discussion: Social networks may influence body size norms in South Asian adults. Long-term follow up of the MASALA cohort will determine if social network body size and body size norms are associated with weight- control behaviors and weight change.

Keywords: Body size norms; Cardiovascular risk; Obesity; Social network influence; South Asian American.

Conflict of interest statement

Declarations of interest None.


Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.
Stunkard Figure Rating Scale for Men and Women. Reprinted with permission from The Genetics of Neurological and Psychiatric Disorders Copyright 1983, Raven Press (Stunkard et al., 1983).
Fig. 2.
Fig. 2.
Scatterplots of male and female body size norm by network body size. These scatterplots show the relationship between body size norm and average network body size for male figures (top panel) and female figures (bottom panel) with nonparametric smoother lines. The body sizes 2, 3, and 4 represent “healthy” body sizes on the Stunkard scale (Winston et al., 2015a; Bulik et al., 2001).

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