Public Release:  Peer pressure can keep you healthy

BioMed Central

Hanging out with healthy friends could be the best way to keep fit. A study of 3610 Australian women, published in BioMed Central's open access International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity found that physical activity and healthy eating behavior were both strongly affected by social norms.

Kylie Ball, from Deakin University, Australia, worked with a team of researchers to survey the 18-46 year old women. She said, "The importance of social environmental influences on health-promoting behaviors such as physical activity and healthy eating has been increasingly recognized. Ours is one of the first studies to demonstrate the association of both social support and social norms with physical activity and eating behaviors".

The researchers tested the extent to which a fashion for healthy behavior among a person's contacts could influence their own lifestyle. The women who took part in the study were asked to rate how much they agreed with statements like "I often see other people walking in my neighborhood" and "Lots of women I know eat fast food often". Those women who moved in healthier circles were in turn more likely to eat well and get more exercise. According to Ball, "These findings suggest that healthy behavior may be contagious. The potential to modify social norms as an intervention lever for promoting increased engagement in physical activity and healthy eating is worthy of further investigation".

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Notes to Editors

1. Is healthy behavior contagious: associations of social norms with physical activity and healthy eating
Kylie Ball, Robert W Jeffery, Gavin Abbott, Sarah A McNaughton and David Crawford
International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity (in press)

During embargo, article available here: http://www.ijbnpa.org/imedia/2013913036415650_article.pdf?random=222804

After the embargo, article available at the journal website: http://www.ijbnpa.org/

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.

Article citation and URL available on request at press@biomedcentral.com on the day of publication.

2. The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity (IJBNPA) is an open cccess, peer-reviewed online journal devoted to furthering the understanding of the behavioral aspects of diet and physical activity.

3. BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/) is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector.

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