A study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, of 12,067 people followed for more than thirty years found that people were at a greater risk of becoming obese when a close friend became obese. Researchers report that obesity can spread from person to person much like a virus. Moreover, it did not even matter if the friend was hundreds of miles away, the influence remained. The greatest influence was between close, mutual friends. If one became obese, the other had a 171 percent increased chance of becoming obese, too.
Don't worry. We're not conveying the message that you should make new friends or avoid certain people. However, it is important to recognize how our social networks influence our perceptions and our healthy lifestyles. For more information about the study, read the summary article and view the explanatory video.
There's good news too. Investigators say that the same effect seemed to occur for weight loss. So, if you find yourself packing on the pounds, just blame your friends or better yet share a duet with a friend.
Note: This blog post was originally published on August 4, 2007.
Got a friend you'd love to blame? Send this post to her with an invitation for a duet session.