Its thin friends for me from now on

In some really intriguing new science news, it appears that being overweight has a strong social component.

Obesity can spread from person to person, much like a virus, researchers are
reporting today. When one person gains weight, close friends tend to
gain weight, too…

The investigators knew who was friends with whom as well as who was a
spouse or sibling or neighbor, and they knew how much each person
weighed at various times over three decades. That let them reconstruct
what happened over the years as individuals became obese. Did their
friends also become obese? Did family members? Or neighbors?

The answer, the researchers report, was that people were most likely
to become obese when a friend became obese. That increased a person?s
chances of becoming obese by 57 percent. There was no effect when a
neighbor gained or lost weight, however, and family members had less
influence than friends.

It did not even matter if the friend was
hundreds of miles away, the influence remained. And the greatest
influence of all was between close mutual friends. There, if one became
obese, the other had a 171 percent increased chance of becoming obese,
too.

And here's a thought-provoking line:

It may also mean that the way to avoid becoming fat is to avoid having fat friends.

Alright friends of mine, you are on notice.  Ten more pounds and then you are cut off.  Interestingly, the graph also suggests that opposite sex friends don't seem to hurt you.  All women friends for me?  What do you think Kim?

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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