Online Program

Curvy girl chats: Application of a social support/social network conceptual framework to explore the experiences, challenges, and social networks of obese, young adult African-American women

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 5:30 p.m. - 5:50 p.m.

Brandy Rollins, PhD, MPH, CHES, Social and Health Disparities Research Lab, College Station, TX
Mary Shaw-Ridley, PhD, MEd, MCHES, Associate Professor-Health Education, Director-Social and Health Disparities Research Lab, Texas A and M University, College Station, TX
Obesity, a public health concern, affects over 30% of Americans. Approximately 78% of African-American women are overweight, as compared to 46% of Caucasian women. Obese African-American women are at higher risk for associated morbidities (e.g., hypertension, type II diabetes, select cancers, and early mortality) as compared to non-Hispanic whites. Weight-related beliefs and behaviors are developed within the context of social support networks (e.g., families, friends, and communities). Social networks are “linkages between people.” They may or may not provide social support and may serve functions other than providing support. These networks can have a great impact on the general health of individuals. Because people are embedded in social networks, they may be influenced by the evident beliefs as well as behaviors and appearances of those around them. Few studies address the social contexts within which weight-related beliefs and behaviors occur. The exploratory study was guided by the conceptual model of the relationship of social networks and social support to health. Specifically, the constructs of social network structure and social support functions were examined to determine how they relate to weight-related beliefs and behaviors. Selected social networks and behavioral mechanism constructs were explored. Specific social network characteristics included size, reciprocity, reachability and proximity. In addition, behavioral mechanism constructs, explicitly social support/conflict and social influence were investigated. Social support/conflict was characterized by the four types of social support: information, instrumental, appraisal, and emotional. For social influence, constraining/enabling influences on health behaviors and attitudes, and norms towards help-seeking were the characteristics examined.

Learning Areas:

Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe the application of a conceptual framework based social support and social network theory to understand obesity among young adult African-American women. Explain the qualitative findings from the initial informal conversations and semi-structured interviews conducted with obese, young adult African-American women. Discuss future implications of utilizing the conceptual framework to develop comprehensive healthy weight interventions for obese, young adult African-American women.

Keyword(s): African American, Obesity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was the principal investigator for the research study. I oversee community health education and chronic disease prevention projects. I also serve as the associate director of the Social and Health Disparities Research Lab.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.