FRAMINGHAM, Mass. -- Editorial about "contagious" obesity.
No wonder we're all packing on the pounds. It turns out obesity is contagious.
This report, from the Framingham Heart Study, comes on the heels of a report from the same gang indicating that more than one soda a day -- whether diet or sugar-laden -- is bad for you.
Like many studies, these seem to do little more than underline the obvious.
Using data collected since 1971 about participants in the study of generations of Framingham residents, researchers found that when an individual becomes obese, there is a 57 percent chance that a friend will become obese. In same-sex friendships, individuals experienced a 71 percent increased risk if a friend became obese.
Consider all the common sense explanations for this finding.
Friends do things together, including eating and sedentary pursuits. People are often drawn to those who look like them, and they judge their appearance against the appearance of their friends. If your friends are widening around the middle, it's easier to let yourself grow to match them.
There are probably other social dynamics at work as well. In a culture that worships thinness, overweight people can feel ostracized by the slender and may be more comfortable with those their own size.
This finding hits close to home for us here in MetroWest. It was based on the waistlines and social networks of 5,124 Framingham Heart Study participants. Many of us know people in the study, can be considered their friends -- and are growing ever more obese along with them.
The good news is the social contagion can work for weight loss as well. So if you want to drop a few pounds, start hanging out with people who are thinner and healthier. You can find them at the gym.
MetroWest (Mass.) Daily News