Obesity can be contagious

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Principessa, Jul 25, 2007.

  1. Principessa

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    Study Says Obesity Can Be Contagious
    By GINA KOLATA
    Obesity can spread from person to person, much like a virus, researchers are reporting today. When a person gains weight, close friends tend to gain weight, too.

    Their study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, involved a detailed analysis of a large social network of 12,067 people who had been closely followed for 32 years, from 1971 until 2003. 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 examine what happened over the years as some 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.

    Proximity did not seem to matter: the influence of the friend remained even if the friend was hundreds of miles away. And the greatest influence of all was between mutual close friends. There, if one became obese, the odds of the other becoming obese were nearly tripled.

    The same effect seemed to occur for weight loss, the investigators say. But since most people were gaining, not losing, over the 32 years of the study, the result was an obesity epidemic.

    Dr. Nicholas Christakis, a physician and professor of medical sociology at Harvard Medical School and a principal investigator in the new study, says one explanation is that friends affect each others’ perception of fatness. When a close friend becomes obese, obesity may not look so bad.

    “You change your idea of what is an acceptable body type by looking at the people around you,” Dr. Christakis said.

    The rest of the article can be found here:
    Study Says Obesity Can Be Contagious - New York Times

    That's odd, because when I was younger and modeling many of my female friends were obese. They never lost weight and at the time I had a very high metabolism and never gained an ounce. :tongue:
     
  2. naughty

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    Workin' up a good pot of mad!
    Metabolism is the operative word here. It obviously was not behaviorally driven.













     
  3. wldhoney

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    So, then, if all my friends wear glasses......then chances are I will think I need to wear glasses.......I need to get new friends with 20/20 vision! Now, where's my Big Mac?
     
  4. Principessa

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    True, I am still friends with some of the same women and while I have gained about 50 lbs. since my runway days they have literally gained between 50-100 pounds each. :eek:

    After years of yoyo dieting and failed gym memberships one friend had gastric bypass surgery a few years ago. Though she still isn't a weight in proportion to her height she looks fabulous and has regained her life. She is able to walk, bike, swim, and rollerblade with her hubby like she did before she became so obese. I'm quite proud of her, if you can't tell. :smile:
     
  5. Gillette

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    I'm surprised that family didn't have a much stronger influence. I would think that parents would be likely to pass on their eating habits and patterns of physical activity to their children.
     
  6. whatireallywant

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    Well, I used to have a lot of obese friends and gained a lot of weight. Now I have a mixture of friends, some are and some are not - one of my current friends actually looks like she could be a supermodel! Tall and VERY slender...

    Maybe I can "catch" some of her slimness :biggrin1: (I seriously doubt I can get any taller, though!) Although actually, she is not really my ideal body type (as in, what I wish I was...)

    Actually, I think what it could be is that if you hang around people who eat more, you eat more, and if you hang around people who eat less, you eat less. I hung around too many buffet-lovers for a few years and have gained 40 lbs!
     
  7. Principessa

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    tee hee hee one of my best friends since high school is 5'6" and in the neighborhood of 300 lbs; I am 5'8" and 175. (When I was modeling I was a mere 125 lbs. :rolleyes:) For my 41st birthday she took me to Old Country Buffet. Come to think of it she did the same thing at Christmas . . . Hmm, she is trying to make me get fat like her! :eek: :biggrin1: :mad:
     
  8. whatireallywant

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    Buffets are evil. (and I ate at one tonight - but honestly, that is the first time I've eaten at a buffet in a long time...since moving here I hardly ever do.)

    I read somewhere that with the obesity epidemic in the US, the average American looks like "Buffet The Waistline Slayer". I had to put down the paper because I was laughing so hard over that!

    5'3" and 165 here, but 10 years ago I weighed closer to 130 or so.
     
  9. D_N Flay Table

    D_N Flay Table New Member

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    I think she might be right... every time I come here, I get a "chubby"
    tee hee
     
  10. Principessa

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    ROTFLMAO
     
  11. Lex

    Lex
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    In Your Darkest Thoughts and Dreams
    Well, it stands to reason that is all the people around you arfe obese and/or do not have healthy eating habits, that you are likely to gain weight, especially if you are eating like they do.

    Remember, correlation does not mean causation.
     
  12. wldhoney

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    Perhaps it's just me but I don't find this to be true. I have average weight and overweight friends, and if anything I have found that my overweight friends tend to eat just as healthy if not healthier then I do, at least when they are around others. In fact, I will often find myself ordering lighter fare when what I really want is something decadent.

    Where it may make a difference, in my opinion, is in the activity level. I find that my overweight friends do not want to go mountain biking or hiking with me.

    That is not to say that all overweight people do not exercise or go out. My sister is above average in weight, and she works out like a fiend. However, what she considers to be "fun" will involve relaxing, while mine would involve going out and doing something.

    Again, this is just my experience.
     
  13. SpoiledPrincess

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    People tend to be friends with people who enjoy the same sort of things, if you're a gym rat you're hardly likely to hang out with someone whose idea of exercise is going to the kitchen for more popcorn. People's metabolism's do differ so a group of friends can produce a few that don't fit in with the general picture.
     
  14. chico8

    chico8 New Member

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    I think you've got it right there. Birds of a feather...

    I'm not a gym rat at all but my friendships revolve around some sort of physical activity. I have a few friends that are overweight, but none that are obese. I do think that obesity is a social phenomenon and influenced by those around us.

    I was always a chunky little kid, or so I thought. When I was recently looking through old family photos I discovered that I was simply a few pounds overweight as a child. Also, it was only for a couple of years before I hit puberty, from that point on, I was just fine.

    However, in the context of the 70s, I was chunky, in the context of the 2000s, I would probably be considered anorexic.

    The more we condone obesity, the more it becomes common.
     
  15. SpoiledPrincess

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    I find the reverse Chico, thin in the 70's was thinner than it is now, a size 10 dress used to be considered 32 22 34 now it's considerably bigger, very few women these days have the tiny waist that used to be so common.
     
  16. ganja4me

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    I agree with this. I had a friend that was overweight and once we started hanging out more he ended up losing weight. This was because I got him to start coming out of the house and being more active since that's what I liked to do. He was always thanking more for it too. He said if we never would have started hanging out like that he would probably be very out of shape now.
     
  17. Aitch

    Aitch New Member

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    This kinda fits in with what one asian doctor has been trying to prove for years (he couldnt get funding for his research), the there is an obesity virus. And viruses get passed from person to person so...go figure!
     
  18. playainda336

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  19. Cobalt Blue

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    Alas, this is true. I blame famous fatties like Jennifer Lopez for hoodwinking women into thinking that obesity is somehow desirable.
     
  20. chico8

    chico8 New Member

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    Oops, I didn't express myself very well. I meant to say what you just did.

    I oftentimes wonder if the obesity epidemic is partly to blame for the shapeless, baggy clothes that are so common today.
     
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