Normative beliefs as risk factors for involvement in unhealthy weight control behavior

Holly Clemens, Dennis Thombs, R. Scott Olds, Karen Lowry Gordon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Objective: The authors' aim in this study was to determine, after adjustment for the effects of body mass index and sociodemographic measures, whether sex-specific weight control norms would have significant independent relationships with the weight control behavior of college women and men. Participants: The authors used an anonymous questionnaire to assess a sample of 470 college students, aged 18 to 26 years, attending either a 2-year community college or a 4-year public university. Methods: To calculate body mass index, the authors objectively measured the height and weight of each participant. They conducted separate discriminant function analyses for women and men. Results: The discriminant function analyses clearly indicated that weight control norms of same-sex, close friends were the best discriminators of involvement in weight control. Conclusions: The findings indicate that perceived peer norms may be important but overlooked risk factors for engaging in unhealthy weight control practices. The authors discuss the implications of these findings in the context of student health promotion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)635-642
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of American College Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2008


  • College health
  • Normative beliefs
  • Peer norms
  • Weight control behavior


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