Are Your Friends Increasing Your Risk of Obesity?


We all know that obesity is a major health risk, but did you know that a recent study by Harvard scientists tells us that over the next four decades the number of obese Americans will continue to increase…until 42% (or more!) of the population is obese1.

That’s a staggering figure. Especially when you take into account that in 1971, only 14% were obese! The scientists who conducted this Framingham Heart Study say that by simply modeling the future on the way we eat and live now, shows this huge increase in obesity. One reason? Social networks. (And I don’t mean Facebook!)

What does it mean, though? Basically, that we transfer our unhealthy habits from person to person, socially. This is becoming the fastest growing component in weight gain1.

The scientists found that a non-obese American adult has a 2 percent chance of becoming obese in any given year and that this number rises by 0.4 percent with each obese friend that you have. This means that having five obese friends doubles the risk of becoming obese1!

However, it is not the number one cause. Non-social transmission is, of course, the biggest factor, and this is simply making bad food choices and not getting enough exercise1.

This study should make you think, pack, about who is in YOUR pack and what their habits are. Our social norms are always changing, and maybe you should help your friends change their habits as well. What can you do to keep your friends, but keep off the weight?

Join a gym together, or, just set up a regular exercise date: a walk every evening or a bike ride. Start to make healthier food choices as a group, email one another articles on weight loss…find healthy recipes to share…whatever you do, do it as a group and soon you all will reap the benefits…and you’ll have fun doing it!

1) “Obesity Rate Will Reach at Least 42 Percent, Say Models of Social Contagion.” (2010).
Retrieved from


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