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The peer context of dieting : The relationship between young adults’ dieting frequency and their friends’ weight-related characteristics

  • Alexander Miething
  • Mikael Rostila
  • Christofer Edling
  • Jens Rydgren
Publishing year: 2018-12-05
Language: English
Publication/Series: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume: 15
Issue: 12
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute

Abstract english

Previous research found that weight-related behaviors and body weight tends to be similar between individuals and peers. Rather little is known how different domains of weight-related behaviors co-evolve in peer networks. Hence, this study explores how young adults’ self-reported dieting relates to perceived body weight and weight control behaviors of their peers. A Swedish two-wave panel survey with ego-centric network data was analyzed with negative binomial regression models. Nineteen-year-old men and women in the first wave, and 23-year-olds in the follow-up sample were examined. Men at age 19 showed an increased dieting propensity when being exposed to underweight peers. Compared to men, women’s dieting at age 19 was more strongly related to their own body image concerns, and peers’ weight-related behaviors like physical exercising and unhealthy eating. The associations between dieting and peers’ weight-related characteristics for men and women deteriorated from age 19 to age 23. The findings suggest that women’s dieting—in comparison to dieting in men—is more strongly related to the peer context. The decrease in associations between men’s and women’s dieting and peers’ weight-related characteristics from age 19 to age 23 may reflect a weakened importance of the peer context in early adulthood.


  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Dieting
  • Early adulthood
  • Ego-centric social networks
  • Sweden
  • Weight control behavior


  • ISSN: 1661-7827
Christofer Edling
E-mail: christofer [dot] edling [at] soc [dot] lu [dot] se


Faculty of Social Sciences

+46 46 222 88 62



Centre for Economic Demography




+46 46 222 88 62




I earned my PhD from Stockholm University in 1999. Between 2002 and 2005 I was Torgny Segerstedt Pro Futura Fellow at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study at Uppsala University. I received my Docent-title in 2003, and was appointed Associate Professor at Stockholm University in 2004. From 2006 to 2008 I was Head of the Department of Sociology at Stockholm university. Before coming to Lund in 2012 I served as Full Professor of Sociology at Jacobs University, Bremen, Germany. I have been a fellow at Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (2004/05) and Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (2013).

Department of Sociology
Lund University
Visiting address: Sandgatan 11, House G, Lund
Postal address: Box 114 , SE-221 00 LUND, SWEDEN
Telephone: Student Office +46 46-222 88 44, Lund University Switchboard +46 46-222 00 00

Faculty of Social Sciences