Weighty Issues

By Carmarlena Murdaca

Weighty Issues

You are what you eat – and who you know – when it comes to staying slim, but there’s a catch. 

A new study by researchers at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, shows a link between a person’s weight and the socioeconomic status of the people close to them. Professor Lijun Song, one of the lead researchers, says women of a higher status in society are more weight-conscious, more concerned about their body image and more likely to practice a weight-related lifestyle.

“If you are surrounded by people like that, you’re exposed to a stronger network norm of weight control,” says Song.

However, the research shows the opposite is true for men – having higher-status contacts is associated with higher weights. They theorise that while the slenderness ideal becomes incredibly important for women as their socioeconomic status increases, men may have more pressure to prove they are masculine breadwinners and, in turn, show less concern about weight control. “The implication here is that body weight norms are gendered, and one’s network reinforces it,” Song added.

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