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Physiol Behav. 2007 Dec 5;92(5):840-6. Epub 2007 Jun 20.

Effects of social contexts on overweight and normal-weight children's food intake.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Division of Behavioral Medicine, State University of New York at Buffalo, Farber Hall, Room G56, 3435 Main Street, Building # 26, New York, 14214-3000, USA.


This study investigates the effects of peer influence on the food intake of overweight and normal-weight children. A mixed factorial design was employed, with children's weight status (overweight vs. normal-weight) as a between-subjects factor, and social context (alone vs. group) as a within-subjects factor. A total of 32 children (n=17 overweight and n=15 normal-weight) between the ages of 6-10 years participated in this study. Findings from the random regression model indicated that overweight children ate more when with others than when alone, while in contrast normal-weight ate more with others than they did when alone. Therefore, social context differentially impacts the eating behavior of overweight and normal-weight children. This study underscores differences in responses to the social environment between overweight and non-overweight youths, and suggests that social involvement may be an important tool in treatment and prevention programs for overweight and obesity.

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