How to use social influence to your advantage for weight loss

We all know that we can follow different diets and exercise regimes to assist with weight loss, but now we also know that we can use social influence to improve our weight loss results.

What exactly do we mean by ‘social influence’? Social influence refers to the effect that our social network has on us, including family, friends, teammates, work colleagues and anyone else that you have contact with.

Plenty of research has shown some of the interesting effects our social networks have on our behaviours and health outcomes such as:

  • Social norms are very influential on eating and exercise behaviour. Depending on what a person’s friends and family do, they can dictate whether a person is more likely to be a certain weight, engage in physical activity and how much healthy food or junk food they consume.
  • If a person is placed in a random group for a meal, they will adjust the amount of food they eat to model and copy how much those around them are eating. This happens both in overeating, or in eating very small amounts if the others are - despite reporting themselves as very hungry.
  • In comparison to people who have a healthy weight, people that are overweight or obese are more likely to have overweight best friends and romantic partners.
  • A person’s chance of becoming obese increases 57% if a friend becomes obese, 40% if a sibling becomes obese, and 37% if a spouse becomes obese.
  • Having more social contacts trying to lose weight is associated with greater intention to lose weight.
  • Entering a competition associated with a weight loss goal has shown greater weight loss results for the participants.
  • When participating in a weight loss program, those with another social contact doing the program would lose more weight (>2kg more), attend more group sessions, and submit more self reflection journals than those who didn’t know anyone else doing the program.

All of these points are reflective of the way the people around us can significantly impact our weight loss, so the key is to use this positively to our advantage!

Some top tips:

Enter a competition

  • A competition will offer an external focus for your goal, and knowing that other people are in the challenge with you makes it all the more enjoyable.
  • If the competition has resources such as recipes and the possibility of a nice shiny prize at the end for you to keep you motivated, that’s a bonus

Use the help of your friends and family

  • Recruit your friends to join you, enhancing your level of social support to keep you on track.
  • Meet up with friends and family for walks instead of after-work drinks.
  • Try to use family events as an opportunity for everyone to enjoy cooking healthy meals together
  • Aim to each contribute a healthy plate for a picnic, when catching up with friends instead of opting for takeaway options.
  • Be prepared with some quick and health snack options that are high in protein, and low in sugar and fat such as our protein bars or our RAPID low sugar protein shakes.

Meet more people who are active and healthy

  • Join a team sport that you enjoy, and have fun while increasing your activity.
  • Stay active in a group to keep you accountable such as bootcamps,
  • Attend group training sessions at the gym or find a workout buddy
  • See if there’s a local walking group or hiking group that you can join.

Follow a program that’s tried and tested

  • Knowing that people had had success on the program you’re on will be much more motivating than trying to navigate conflicting nutrition information on the internet
  • We have some great recipes to go hand-in-hand with our weight-loss shakes (https://tonyferguson.com/collections/classic-shakes) for proven success  

Domino Puttick

Accredited Practising Dietitian

 

 

Reference: 

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1038/oby.2010.301

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jobe/2013/480630/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20966375/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22310234/

 

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