Do your friends make you fat? The answer is yes according to the latest research by Harvard and UC, San Diego. According to a research by Harvard and University of California, obesity is contagious through social networks. In a layman term, your obese best friends can make you fat in several years.
Many people have always take for granted that obesity is caused by individual decisions such as lack of exercises and unhealthy eating habits, but this research found out that your social friends could also impact your waist size. As published in July 26 Edition of New England Journal of Medicine, study led by Nicholas Christakis of Harvard Medical School and James Fowler of UC San Diego established the fact that obesity spread through social networks of an individual.
This means when people gain weight then there's an increased chance that their friends, spouses or siblings will also gain weight. The like hood of this weight gain depends on how close two people in term of social relationship. The closer two people are in social relationship then the more that each other will affect each other's weight. Strangely, the research found that friends had more effect compared to siblings.
To summarize the study, the researchers found that friends had 57% increased chance of becoming obese. The fact that two best friends were 1000 miles apart did not change the contagious effect of obesity. The research result was still valid for two friends who lived far away from each other. According to the researchers, the reason of this phenomenon is because people see their friends gain weight and become bigger thus conclude that it's okay to be bigger since their surrounding network are also grow bigger.
What's the moral story of this research? I decide to feature this on my blog post not to point out that you should avoid your obese friends. But I want to point out that thinness is also contagious. By maintaining your healthy lifestyle and exercises habit, you will influence your friends in losing more weight. That way I am sure we have contributed something to fight the obesity epidemic although perhaps, our roles are small.
The study can be viewed here (The title is The Spread of Obesity in a Large Social Network Over 32 Years)
A review of this study on UCSD News Center and Harvard Medical School.
Labels: diet issues