Alison Hill, the study’s lead author, said, “We find that having four obese friends doubled people’s chance of becoming obese compared to people with no obese friends.” The study goes on to say that the more obese people you come in contact with, the more likely you are to become obese.
Why? Researchers aren’t sure. Before we shrug off responsibility for our health and point fingers at our friends, it’s important to remember that obesity isn’t like chickenpox—it’s not outwardly contagious. But maybe our eating and exercise habits are. Or maybe people make friends with like-minded individuals that enjoy similar activities, foods, etc.
One thing is clear: Americans are getting even fatter. Obesity is defined as more than 30 pounds overweight. Currently, about 1/3 of America is obese. That number is expected to reach 42% in 40 years, and then level off, according to the researchers.
And if our habits are contagious, it’s yet another reason to lead by example!
What do you make of this new study? Do you find that you and your friends share similar habits?