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Influence of social relationships on obesity prevalence and management

1 January 2011


Research from the reviewed literature consistently indicates a relationship between an individual’s social network and the prevalence of being overweight or obese. There is limited research that looks at this relationship in depth or the causality of the relationship. By understanding the role social supports play in the management of obesity, occupational therapy can promote a social context that will facilitate participation in activities.
How do social relationships influence the prevalence and management of obesity?
As the prevalence of obesity continues to rise, clinical conditions such as cardiovascular disease and stroke are a constant threat to our livelihood. Further, as more of our population becomes obese, the roles and activities these individuals participate in are modified or stopped due to lack of capability. This has the potential to have a cyclical effect and further contribute to obesity. Studies have associated health related behaviors such as smoking and sexual activity to be associated to the social environment (Holtgrave & Crosby, 2006). It is possible that the social environment can contribute to the prevalence of obesity. With this knowledge, occupational therapists and other professions can promote and alter environments to decrease the prevalence and help to manage obesity.


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