Introduction. Much of the research in obesity has explored the role of social networks in promoting health through social influence and selection. However, little research has examined how social networks themselves could condition health behaviours. Research began to address more detailed questions regarding peer socialization process and network properties. One of the key questions is whether behaviour association (either peer socialization or selection) is dependent on the local network structure. Examining social network position, structure, and how they interact with behaviour provide valuable insight on how to modify these behaviours.
The objective of the study was to examine the moderating role of friendship network properties on the association between individual’s and friends’ weight-related behaviours among adolescents.
Materials and methods. Methods are drawn from a set of analytical tools known as ‘Social Network Analysis’, which uses friendship nomination data from a complete network (socio-metric), along with reported data on diet, physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and sleep deprivation.
Results. A total of 673 adolescents aged between 11-15 years, from four schools in Kingdom of Bahrain, participated in this study. Findings from binary logistic regression models suggest that there are associations between adolescents and their friends’ in multiple weight-related behaviours. There is also evidence for the moderating role of some network properties on these associations.
Conclusion. Properties of friendship network are critical in conditioning associations between individuals and their friends’ weight-related behaviours. However, findings are gender specific, which has implications for gender-tailored interventions.
Keywords: social networks, friendship networks, diet, physical activity, sedentary behaviour.
Address for correspondence:
Dalia M. KAMEL
Department of Physical Therapy for Women’s Health, Faculty of Physical Therapy, Cairo University, Egypt
Address: El-Tahrir St., Dokki, Giza District, 11432, Egypt
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