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The research catalogue is an archive of ESRC-funded grants and outputs. Links, files and other content will no longer be maintained or updated after April 2014.

Managing social environment for reducing obesity in middle-aged and older adults

The aim of this interdisciplinary quantitative study is to explore the relationship of social environmental factors, such as social participation and social support, with obesity and weight-related health behaviours (diet and physical activity) in middle-aged (35-50 years) and older (50+) adults.

Social participation refers to taking part in formal and informal groups and associations, cultural and other social and civic activities; whereas social support refers to resources and assistance provided by other persons.

Two large existing longitudinal datasets (Whitehall II and the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing) will be statistically analysed. Socio-economic and gender differences as well as differences between non-working and working older adults are investigated.

The proposed study addresses a gap within the research on social determinants of obesity; longitudinal research is needed to provide more robust evidence on the links between social environment, obesity, and weight-related health behaviours. It is possible that lack of social participation, poor social support and negative aspects of close relationships, which often co-occur with economic disadvantage, are amongst the mechanisms through which relative deprivation may influence obesity.

The proposed research aims to make a practical and meaningful contribution to the NHS guidelines in preventing and treating obesity and increasing physical activity.