The quality and scope of social support has an impact on adherence and outcomes in behavioral weight management. Psychosocial factors such as depression, substance use, and certain eating behaviors (binge eating, night eating, disinhibition, cognitive restraint, and hunger) can contribute to weight gain, poor weight management, and less successful outcomes. Less is known about the role of social support in persons who seek bariatric surgery.


Candidates for bariatric surgery (n=300) were assessed before surgery with the Medical Outcomes Study Social Support Survey (MOS), Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI), Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT), Eating Inventory (Cognitive Restraint, Disinhibition, Hunger), Night Eating Questionnaire (NEQ), SCID-V substance (SUD) and alcohol use disorder (AUD) diagnoses, and Eating Disorder Examination (EDE). Correlations and t-tests were used to assess the relationship between social support and these psychosocial measures.


Participants (87% female) were 40.1(11.0) years old, with a BMI of 45.9(6.2) kg/m2, were 61.5% black, 29.9% white, and 8.6% other. MOS total score was inversely related to BDI (r=.35, p<.0001), Disinhibition (r=.15, p=.0001), Hunger (r=.13, p=.025), objective binge eating (r=.23, p=.0001), subjective binge eating (r=.14, p=.018), and NEQ (r=.23, p=.0001). MOS subscales, particularly Emotional/Informational Support and Positive Social Interaction, were also inversely associated with these variables (all p’s<.04). MOS was not related to AUDIT or Cognitive Restraint. Those with a lifetime diagnosis of AUD (25%) and SUD (19%) did not differ significantly on MOS Total score compared to those without these, except for MOS Tangible Support which was lower in those with SUD (p=.04).


Greater social support is associated with more favorable eating factors and mood among candidates for surgery. These relationships may play an important role in postoperative outcomes.