Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Elizabeth Gill


Previous research emphasizes the link between social support and weight loss. However, scholarship has failed to explore how family members enact support during an individual's weight loss attempt and how participation in a weight loss program impacts family communication about dietary choices. This project examines how family members enact support for individuals in a weight loss program and how as a result of participating in a weight loss program family members renegotiate relational norms and rules regarding dietary behaviors. Thirteen individuals (n= 13), eleven (11) females and two (2) males enrolled in a medically supervised weight management program journaled about their experiences over a twelve (12) week period. Analysis reveals the dual nature of social support, how families and relational partners renegotiate rules and norms regarding dietary behavior and how relational partners impact dietary choices. Theoretical and practical implications for interpersonal, family, and health communication are discussed as well as implications for weight management program practitioners. The thesis concludes with recommendations for future research.