"Obesity and Social Marginalization: When do Organized Activities Promote or Hinder Peer Relationships?"
Ettekal, A. V., Simpkins, S., & Schaefer, D. (July 2017). Obesity and social marginalization: When do organized activities promote or hinder peer relationships? Applied Developmental Science. DOI: 10.1080/10888691.2017.1329013
Overweight youth are often socially marginalized and have fewer friends than their non-overweight peers. Participation in organized activities may be one way to promote friendships for overweight youth. In this study, we used a large nationally representative sample to test whether two aspects of participation promoted friendships, namely the number of activities and the social acceptance of activity co-participants. In contradiction to our hypotheses, participating in activities with high socially accepted peers was associated with significantly fewer friendships over time for overweight adolescents. Conversely, there were small differences between overweight and non-overweight adolescents’ friendships when they participated in activities with low socially accepted co-participants. Our findings provide new insight that activities may not be universally beneficial for overweight adolescents’ peer relationships. We discuss the various peer mechanisms that explain why certain types of activities predict these friendship patterns for overweight youth.