According to a study, our weight is…
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According to a study, our weight is often influenced by the people we spend the most time with

January 13, 2019 • By Shirley Marie Bradby

If you have been desperately trying to lose weight for some time without achieving the desired results, perhaps you should stop changing from one type of diet to another looking for the best one!

It would be more appropriate to look at who is around you. After all, very little changes occurred between one diet and the other. Instead, it would appear that the people around you can have a significant influence on your weight. 

This is what emerges from a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which compares obesity with a social contagion.

image: CBS (Mike and Molly)

The idea that prompted the two researchers Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler is that in social networks there is a tendency to replicate behaviors, even in the field of nutrition.

The study examined 12,000 adults and their social relationships, representing them as points and lines on a map and in this way, it was clear that when a point was enlarged - that is, a subject gained weight - so did the points (people) around the subject.

It was thus possible to determine the percentages of the risk of obesity compared to the degree of social relationship. In particular, the risk increases by 57% if to gain weight is a friend, 40% if it is a brother/sister and 37% in the case of a partner.

image: Bright/Kauffman/Crane Productions/Warner Bros (Friends)

Furthermore, according to the researchers, this social contagion can expand up to three degrees of social separation. This means, for example, that if your friend's brother gains weight, you could also be "infected"; but if it is the brother of your friend's friend, you can rest assured that you will not gain any weight either by contagion.

On the contrary, the physical or geographical distance does not affect the risk of contagion: if your friend's brother gets fat, it does not matter that he lives in Japan and you in Rome, also for you increases the probability of seeing that number on your bathroom scale move up!

The reason for this social contagion is to be found in the fact that the concept of what is the "norm" is a social construction of the group we belong to; therefore, as Christakis explains, "We form an idea of an acceptable body according to what surrounds us." If your parents are fat, it might seem normal for you to be fat, too.

The fact remains that body mass is determined by many other factors, primarily eating habits, physical activity, diseases, and genes. So, instead of changing friends, take them to the gym with you!  ;)


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