Using social network analysis to clarify the role of obesity in selection of adolescent friends

David R. Schaefer, Sandra D. Simpkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

43 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objectives. We used social network analysis to examine how weight status affects friend selection, with an emphasis on homophily and the social marginalization of overweight youths. Methods. We used an exponential random graph model to assess the effects of body mass index (BMI) on friend selection while controlling for several alternative selection processes. Data were derived from 58 987 students in 88 US middle and high schools who took part in the 1994 to 1996 National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Results. On average, overweight youths were less likely than nonoverweight youths to be selected as a friend; however, this effect differed according to the BMI of the person initiating the friendship. Nonoverweight youths were 30% more likely to select a nonoverweight friend than an overweight friend, whereas overweight youths were largely indifferent to the weight status of their friends. Friendship ties from overweight youths to nonoverweight peers were more likely than ties in the reverse direction. Conclusions. We found evidence consistent with homophily and social marginalization but only for the selection behavior of nonoverweight youths. We conclude that avoidance of overweight friends is the primary determinant of friendship patterns related to BMI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1223-1229
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Public Health
Volume104
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

Fingerprint

Social Support
Obesity
Social Marginalization
Body Mass Index
National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health
Weights and Measures
Students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this

Using social network analysis to clarify the role of obesity in selection of adolescent friends. / Schaefer, David R.; Simpkins, Sandra D.

In: American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 104, No. 7, 2014, p. 1223-1229.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Schaefer, David R. ; Simpkins, Sandra D. / Using social network analysis to clarify the role of obesity in selection of adolescent friends. In: American Journal of Public Health. 2014 ; Vol. 104, No. 7. pp. 1223-1229.
@article{6f9a37828b2a47b4b5ce51481bbbdaec,
title = "Using social network analysis to clarify the role of obesity in selection of adolescent friends",
abstract = "Objectives. We used social network analysis to examine how weight status affects friend selection, with an emphasis on homophily and the social marginalization of overweight youths. Methods. We used an exponential random graph model to assess the effects of body mass index (BMI) on friend selection while controlling for several alternative selection processes. Data were derived from 58 987 students in 88 US middle and high schools who took part in the 1994 to 1996 National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Results. On average, overweight youths were less likely than nonoverweight youths to be selected as a friend; however, this effect differed according to the BMI of the person initiating the friendship. Nonoverweight youths were 30{\%} more likely to select a nonoverweight friend than an overweight friend, whereas overweight youths were largely indifferent to the weight status of their friends. Friendship ties from overweight youths to nonoverweight peers were more likely than ties in the reverse direction. Conclusions. We found evidence consistent with homophily and social marginalization but only for the selection behavior of nonoverweight youths. We conclude that avoidance of overweight friends is the primary determinant of friendship patterns related to BMI.",
author = "Schaefer, {David R.} and Simpkins, {Sandra D.}",
year = "2014",
doi = "10.2105/AJPH.2013.301768",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "104",
pages = "1223--1229",
journal = "American Journal of Public Health",
issn = "0090-0036",
publisher = "American Public Health Association Inc.",
number = "7",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Using social network analysis to clarify the role of obesity in selection of adolescent friends

AU - Schaefer, David R.

AU - Simpkins, Sandra D.

PY - 2014

Y1 - 2014

N2 - Objectives. We used social network analysis to examine how weight status affects friend selection, with an emphasis on homophily and the social marginalization of overweight youths. Methods. We used an exponential random graph model to assess the effects of body mass index (BMI) on friend selection while controlling for several alternative selection processes. Data were derived from 58 987 students in 88 US middle and high schools who took part in the 1994 to 1996 National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Results. On average, overweight youths were less likely than nonoverweight youths to be selected as a friend; however, this effect differed according to the BMI of the person initiating the friendship. Nonoverweight youths were 30% more likely to select a nonoverweight friend than an overweight friend, whereas overweight youths were largely indifferent to the weight status of their friends. Friendship ties from overweight youths to nonoverweight peers were more likely than ties in the reverse direction. Conclusions. We found evidence consistent with homophily and social marginalization but only for the selection behavior of nonoverweight youths. We conclude that avoidance of overweight friends is the primary determinant of friendship patterns related to BMI.

AB - Objectives. We used social network analysis to examine how weight status affects friend selection, with an emphasis on homophily and the social marginalization of overweight youths. Methods. We used an exponential random graph model to assess the effects of body mass index (BMI) on friend selection while controlling for several alternative selection processes. Data were derived from 58 987 students in 88 US middle and high schools who took part in the 1994 to 1996 National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Results. On average, overweight youths were less likely than nonoverweight youths to be selected as a friend; however, this effect differed according to the BMI of the person initiating the friendship. Nonoverweight youths were 30% more likely to select a nonoverweight friend than an overweight friend, whereas overweight youths were largely indifferent to the weight status of their friends. Friendship ties from overweight youths to nonoverweight peers were more likely than ties in the reverse direction. Conclusions. We found evidence consistent with homophily and social marginalization but only for the selection behavior of nonoverweight youths. We conclude that avoidance of overweight friends is the primary determinant of friendship patterns related to BMI.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84902649817&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84902649817&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301768

DO - 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301768

M3 - Article

C2 - 24832139

AN - SCOPUS:84902649817

VL - 104

SP - 1223

EP - 1229

JO - American Journal of Public Health

JF - American Journal of Public Health

SN - 0090-0036

IS - 7

ER -