Diet & Nutrition

Losing weight requires a little help from friends: study

Social support is crucial to shedding weight and keeping it off.

Two women running together

As it turns out, being accountable to someone else is not only important; it’s crucial to losing weight.

Researchers at the University of Illinois in the States have found that receiving social support may be vital in motivating women to lose weight and keep it off. For some women, it was the critical factor in their success.

The study looked at not just the ability to achieve diet goals, but the participants' abilities to keep the weight off. The women who maintained their weight loss had a high levels of social support.

Catherine Metzgar, a research assistant in food science and human nutrition and one of the paper's authors, told Health Canal, "Our women didn't find that accountability to themselves was so important, but having support from others was – just having that social support from someone who was going through the same experience.

"What this study shows is that if you can find that one friend who has the same goals or can just hold you accountable, it is really helpful."

Women who succeeded at keeping the weight off did the following things: they exercised regularly; they "listened to an inner voice" that reminded them to control their portion sizes; and they also took a "fresh-slate mentality" where they would return to eating well after a "slip up" or "bad day" rather than letting one lapse trigger a downward spiral, according to Health Canal.

The study also looked at the power of life transitions in women's weight fluctuations. Events like graduation, starting a sedentary job, getting married, pregnancy and childbirth, were all pitfalls for many of the women, triggering "continual bouts of weight gain, weight loss, maintenance and prevention of weight regain," the study says.

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