Is obesity contagious?

If you have a number of overweight friends, you might want to keep an eye on the scales as research shows that obesity is contagious

What’s the secret to staying in shape? surround yourself with slender friends, according to a new study that says people who surround themselves with fat friends could see their waistbands expanding, too.

Researchers believe that socialising with overweight friends could encourage people to view larger figures as normal and consequently feel pressured to eat more.

Through the women’s study of Body Mass Index, Arizona State University found that the fatter a woman’s social circle, the more likely she is to be obese herself. The scientists claim this is because we learn about acceptable body size from family and friends.

‘When you see that something like obesity spreads among close friends and family members, this raises important questions about how it’s spreading,’ says lead author Daniel Hruschka.

‘You may form an idea of appropriate body size by simply observing your friends bodies, which in turn changes your eating and exercise habits,’ he continues. ‘If we can figure out exactly why obesity spreads among friends and family members, that can tell us where to focus resources in curbing rates of obesity.’

The authors were reluctant to make firm conclusions between body size and friendship group, but insisted the study provided important clues into tackling the rising problem of worldwide obesity.

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