It’s official: your friends can make you fat. While many studies have proven that social support promotes weight loss, there’s now evidence that obese friends can lead you to pack on the pounds. A new study from Harvard shows that the more obese friends you have, the more likely you are to be obese.
The study supports the hypothesis that obesity is socially contagious. About a third of all Americans are obese, and the Harvard researches projected that obesity will rise to 42 percent by 2050 before leveling off. They used the kind of modeling formula that is applied to infectious-diseases to come to their projection.
We find that having four obese friends doubled people’s chance of becoming obese compared to people with no obese friends,” said the study’s lead author, Alison Hill. She also said that Americans have found it easier to gain weight than to lose it, although they can only speculate what casual factors lead social groups to become obese together. They postulate that we tend to share lifestyle habits with our friends, including things like eating choices and physical activity levels.
“It’s in your best interest to help your friends lose weight,” said David Rand, another of the researchers working on the study.
Via USA Today.