Obesity — it's who you know

Comments (37)
By Peter Hadzipetros

If you're putting on weight, you might want to take a look at who you're hanging around with.

A study — published in the July 26, 2007, edition of the New England Journal of Medicine — suggests that obesity may be "socially contagious." The study found that your chances of becoming obese are much higher if someone you are closely connected to becomes obese.

And it may not be because you're spending evenings sitting on the couch with your spouse or kids munching potato chips, eyes glued to the tube. Blame your friends.

The researchers found that if someone you consider a friend becomes obese, your chances of crossing 30 on the old BMI scale go up by 57 per cent. Among mutual friends, the odds go up by 171 per cent.

If your spouse becomes obese, you have a 37 per cent chance of doing the same. Among siblings, odds increase by 40 per cent.

On the bright side, that neighbour who loves to mow his lawn and show off his expanding gut won't have any effect on your odds of becoming obese.

The researchers studied data from the famed Framingham Heart Study, which began collecting data from residents of the Boston suburb back in 1948. For this obesity study, the researchers analyzed 32 years of data for more than 12,000 adults. When they stuck the data on a map, they were able to identify clusters of thin and heavy individuals. They also found that the whole network of people was getting heavier over time.

One of the lead researchers, Nicholas Christakis of Harvard Medical School, told a media briefing that the clusters of heavy people could not be attributed to heavy people deciding to hang out with heavy people.

People who lived hundreds of kilometres apart but who considered themselves close friends had as much of an impact on each other's obesity as friends who lived close by.

Christakis said that as people get bigger, they come to think that it is okay to be bigger because those around them are bigger. The researchers found the social network effects extend to three degrees of separation — to your friends' friends' friends.

But there is a second side to this coin. The researchers found that thinness is contagious, too. Help one person lose weight and you're helping several.

It's a big reason why people who get together with other people to exercise tend to have better results than those going solo.

It's called motivation.

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Comments (37)



Geez people - LIGHTEN UP!

It makes sense that if you hang around with people a lot, that you might pick up some of their habits.

This study does not do all the nasty things that everyone seems to be freaking out about.

Learn to relax,

Posted August 2, 2007 01:31 PM



I'd like to believe this isn't true but in my case it is. I'm far from obese, but since I started dating an obese person (2 years ago) I've put on easily 20 pounds!

In past relationships, I've had rock climbing dates, ice skating dates, long walks, swiming and all sorts of other activities. Since my current boyfriend has no interest in anything that can be considered exercise our dates are in movie theaters and resturants.

This article opened my eyes to this, I'm going to try to get my (now semi-healthy) life style to rub off on him, instead of his (very unhealthy) lifestyle rubbing off on me

Posted August 2, 2007 12:33 PM



In response to telling people who are obese or overweight just to "do something about it". I have been obese, morbidly in fact. I lost weight, but I was fortunate. I had the money to join weight loss programs and gyms. I had fantastic support from friends and family. I also had self-esteem and motivation enough to keep going.

The fact of the matter is not everyone has that. I cringe when I hear an overweight person say that their doctor told them they need to lose weight by eating less+moving more. I agree those are the basic building blocks, but often people need a lot more help than that.

If my friend Johann was a natural runner with tons of talent and wanted to win say the New York City marathon and I just told him all you need to do is run faster than everyone else, I think every coach and athlete would just laugh in my face. Johann would need advice and training on running, nutrition, mental toughness and motivation. He would have to commit and devote tons of time etc. Sure running the fastest would make him the winner, but without the right coaching and support it wouldn't be possible.

Losing weight isn't that much different, especially since the metabolism of an obese person tends to change especially when they lose weight. People like me who are reduced obese people have a lower calorie need and a high exercise need as well.

As for friends influencing the waist line, yup I completely agree, but it can work the other way too. When I started losing weight a lot of my friends started too and most of us are now appreciably slimmer than we used to be.

I too will always think BMI is a joke. It works well for those without a lot of muscle and who are small boned, but for us bigger framed people, we have to keep a lower body fat just to stay in the magical range (I am almost back, still losing baby weight)...

Posted August 2, 2007 11:47 AM

The "fit friend"


All of my friends order beer when we go out. In fact, it's the default setting for making plans "let's go for a beer!" I was doing the beer thing for a while too - even though I never really enjoyed it (beer makes me feel bloated - though I'll have a very light beer on a hot day). The more I'm honest with myself the more I realise that I was likely ordering the beer just to be convivial. I didn't even like the people I smoked with!

Quiting smoking 12 years ago was a bit of a social eureka moment. I discovered that there's a certain element of peer pressure or "going along along with the gang" that comes to play in our social lives well beyond high school.

Eating or drinking certain things simply because everybody else is doing so is not doing your social life any good. Just because your pals like to have three pints of beer doesn't mean you have to. And if they give you a hard time, you give them a hard time right back. And yeah, though you may stand out for a time and seem like a sissy or precious sports nut your friends may come to admire your conviction and strength to make decisions for yourself - rather than submitting to a group mind.

I think a lot of us use conviviality as an excuse for our own indulgence. "I'll have what she or he is having" extends to health problems as well as tasty items on a menu. Every time you agree to eat what your friends are eating you're also agreeing to take on whatever health problems come with those choices.

Posted August 2, 2007 10:01 AM

johnny longsleeves


My son is skinny and does not eat very much. His doctor was not concerned about his lack of weight and more than happy to learn he was eating 3 (light) meals a day, including fruit and vegetables and lots of milk (1%).

My son's doctor was more concerned about identifying kids that were overweight. This he reckoned was akin to a 'slippery slope' that went beyond the obvious social stigma's of being fat. These kids could be pre-disposed to developing Diabetes and other complications associated with this disease ( blindness, amputation, etc..

I always wondered at what stage an overweight person considers themselves overweight? When is being big, too big?

I Watch 'Big Medicine' on TLC and am amazed at how big, big can be. Many of these large people are surrounded by 'large' family members who condone their weight and are oblivious that their brother/sister/mom or dad have not been able to leave their house in over 5 years.

No doubt this has helped North America attain the distinction of having the largest Diabetes population per capita in the world.

Posted August 1, 2007 03:51 PM


Ah, the obesity witch hunt continues. This nonsense is a classic example of causation inferred from correlation. To make the conceptual leap that befriending the obese *causes* one to gain weight is patently absurd.

If this drivel is to be believed, then without your knowledge or consent, your best friend's beer-guzzling uncle (whom you met just once) is slowly, insidiously changing your waistline for the worse -- yet another instance of the fat brigade stripping you of your precious, hard-earned wellness.

Those deemed undesirable by the elite are vilified by stigmatizing them as "diseased." From there, a bogus pandemic is fabricated in order to create the appropriate level of perceived threat. Under such a scenario, panic appears the only sane option.

How can you combat the shaming, blaming, and mounting attacks? Don't believe the hype. Use your critical faculties. Be especially vigilant when vicious, discriminatory claims against an outgroup are couched in pseudo-scientific bafflegab.

Posted August 1, 2007 12:25 AM




You are comparing extremes with BMI of 35 and looking underweight, and visa versa. While this type of individual probably does exist, it is a very small percentage of population.

However, I have seen examples of what you are saying. Most anyone who has a significant degree of muscle mass will score unhealthy on BMI.(or close to it) When I took a fitness testing certification in university we were required to log a certain amount of hours. I have seen too many varsity athletes, and other kinesiology students, who probably represent a significant proportion of the healthy living population, (at the university) score unhealthy, overweight, or obese on BMI. Heck, I'm a pure ectomorph through and through, and I was close.
Also, I can't think of one professor I had who was on board with BMI. I am sure there was some, but none I can remember speaking positively about it.

You are right. It is a generalization. And that may be fine for a dinky internet or magazine survey. The problem lies in that it is a major outcome measure in research. Research conclusions are all too often blindly accepted as truth, without ever investigating the accuracy, or validity of the methods, and tools being used.

I have a huge problem with this, mostly because there are more accurate tools available. (skin fold, bio-electrical impedence, bod pod, and the gold standard being dexa-scan)

Posted July 31, 2007 03:09 PM



A couple of things.

BMI and the fact that it is "total garbage". For every generalization over a wide population (which BMI is - a generalization) there are exceptions, and any reasonable person will know this. People are so passionate about BMI and it's negatives and I find it quite suprising. Our society is based on generalizations. For example: smoking increases risk of heart attack (and it does) but not every smoker has a heart attack - it's a generalization. I think BMI really pushes people's buttons because weight is an extremely sensitive issue. I am wondering if anyone has met someone with a 35+ BMI who looks skinny/underweight or an >18 BMI who looks obese.

Anyone can say what works and what doesn't. The bottom line is to balance our social activities, eating habits, and physical activity. I can't tell anyone what their balance is. What I can say is that you have to find it for yourself, and have the wherewithal to follow through on your goals and manage your life.

This article is total and pure common sense. But do yourself a favour - if you become obese don't pin the blame on your friends - it takes 2 or more to engage in social activity and we all have to be accountable for our own lives and actions.

Posted July 31, 2007 10:49 AM



read over some of the comments...I still see people not been accountable for their actions..what I mean is, you and you alone can change how you look, if you are overweight or obese, do something about it!
I eat at McDonalds once in awhile but I know what moderation is and I'm disiplined when I need to be. I exercise, I eat healthy. So when I want to treat myself I do it... I love my Tim Horton double double... I have a question for some of the readers, have you heard your stomach grawl in the last month ?? maybe it should, nothing wrong with it, you don't need food in your mouth every chance you get. Drink water, have a fruit, protein shake, vegetables...go for a walk - change something you are doing now. Get up and move!!

Posted July 29, 2007 04:43 PM

Sarah, CPT


There's a lot of good and not so good in the comments so far. I'm glad someone's speaking up against this stupid BMI that most doctors and insurance companies hold as sacred as the gospel - it does not reflect muscle mass, and can even be wrong if someone is massively over-fat as well.

Exercise in itself doesn't make you slimmer? Yes and no. What weight training does, is add to your muscle mass. The muscles mass increases your metabolism. This increased metabolsim helps burn existing fat and the nutrition you eat. (Simplified). So yes, weight training helps (as long as you lift heavy enough to challenge yourself and not just what you can easily do).

Ehat helps even more, in a combination with weight training, is cardio. Not the modern time saver shortcut HIT/HIIT cardio so largely advocated these days, that's a shortcut to nowhere except good conscience. 40-minute steady-state fasted cardio (straight out of bed, before breakfast) is the very best to get your metabolism going for the day.

Of course, it is true that you will also need to clean up your nutrition, that goes without saying. Some say the nutrition part is 80% of your success. Training being 20%. BUT ...

Posted July 28, 2007 11:57 AM

Annie F


I have struggled with weight issues ever since my sons were born 40 years ago. I lose some, gain some and on it goes. There is so more to this issue than who you associate with or what you fill your face with.

Example: I had a health problem for over 2 years (unrelated to weight issues), and could not eat after breakfast during all that time. Nothing appealed to me. One would think over that time frame the weight would have fallen off me. No such luck. Not an ounce.

There is ALWAYS someone out there that has the answer, you eat too much food, your friends are all fat, what garbage. My social friends, lifetime friends, family members, and, many neighbors over the years, not one of them have ever had weight problems. For that reason it's a battle I am unable to share or discuss with anyone close to me that could understand.

I would bet my bottom dollar the gentleman who did this study and wrote a paper on his conclusions in a medical journal, has never had a weight issue in his life.

He and others should walk in the shoes of every person who struggles everyday to lose weight and keep it off. Why is it so hard for some and not others? The answer is not far off. Research doctors are getting very close and may have isolated a missing gene, as well as discovering other factors. Their studies continue. Hang in there you guys

Posted July 28, 2007 12:18 AM



This study is about pinning down the odds on one of many variables.
With some dunder heads getting the idea that increased possibility means absolute yes shows we need to work on education issues as well as health issues.
More likely does not equal yes it will.
It means there is another piece of the puzzle that must be accounted for when addressing the issue.

Posted July 27, 2007 08:23 PM



Reading over many of the comments, I think some people are missing something here. This isn't from a book some doctor wrote. This is an article in a peer-reviewed journal. There is actual statistics involved that aren't just looking for a single, unfounded number, and this has been read separately by many experts in the field. It's a long process to get something published, so this isn't something that has been timed conveniently by the media.

It's important to be basing treatment of any medical condition on sound science rather than common sense. Would you really want your doctor to treat you for a heart condition based on the rousing study of "it worked for my Aunt Bess"? Like every other medical condition, we must explore obesity from all angles to understand how to best treat it. This is an important study as it adds to our current knowledge of obesity so that future treatments are effective and viable.

I suggest people go to the website for the New England Journal of Medicine and read the article for themselves so they can make a more informed conclusion about the study. And it's free to read!

Posted July 27, 2007 03:17 PM



The article and now the numerous reports on television have my mind racing a mile a minute. My imagination is a powerful thing and I have everything from fat people only buses and water fountains, to skinny people running away from fat people afraid of catching ‘fat’ as though it were a virus, going through my head. To me some of the visions I have are hilarious (especially the one where the skinny people are running, because in my head I’m chasing them with my hands like the claw, and growling”), but some of them make me sad. They make me sad because history has proven that people are hateful, and can’t wait to jump on the next big group think (again a great visual of a brain shaped bus with all these people jumping on board as it drives by).
It seems to me that this is a case of the media going way to far and irresponsible reporting. Why is this study not being reported as something to laugh at…it should be. The average weight gain for the participants of the ‘study’ was 5-10lbs. How does this not make people question BMI as a respectable measurement…if 5 lbs pushes you over the edge into the ‘obese’ category doesn’t it make you think that perhaps BMI is a crock of…? (there’s a whole other rant waiting to happen here!) Seriously, it’s laughable that this was reported as an accurate finding. People all over the world are right now trying to figure out how to break up with their fat friends, or to start spending less time with them…or maybe they are thinking of ways to make their fat friends more active (nothing like some good ole’ fashioned patronizing).
Or maybe, just maybe, people all over the world found this to be as big a lark as I did, and are having the same problem with their over active imagination, and are having visions of an old VW Bus – with a drum set, and the name (in groovy 70’s writing) “Band Wagon” painted on the side, driving down the street, and all these people are jumping on as it drives by, while other people are throwing food at them…

Posted July 27, 2007 03:11 PM



I'm a fat chick & I find this 'study' to be hilarious. I'm the cause of my thin friends gaining weight. It apparently has little to do with the fact they eat at the food court everyday at lunch while I bring mine from home or go without. It probably has nothing to do with them drinking pop all day, I'm have a morning coffee & water for the rest of the day. I see absolutley nothing wrong with walking the 10 blocks to the nearest coffeeshop & walking back while they whine that it's too far.

Whatever happened to being responsible for your own actions? Oops! My mistake, I forgot we live in a 'not my fault' society.

Posted July 27, 2007 02:48 PM

kathy sesto

why are $ spent on such a study when they could be spent on encocuraging ALL Canadians young and old to BE ACTIVE.

When young teens are "forced" to take just one Phys Education credit in high school, when being active is such an important part of anyone's day, seems like the Ministry of Education might turn the table on making obesity studies unnecessary.

With a dailty pro-fitness attitude, which could be encouraged in the schools, at home, and in the community centres, governments might lower their health budgets on such things as diabetes and some of the risks factors that come with being overweight.

Make sense to me. Let's start young and make lifelong habits stick. Children naturally play, so should adults. then we wouldn't need $ to be spent on such studies.

crazy western world. would such a study be done in a so-called underdeveloped country, that's what I wonder.

Posted July 27, 2007 02:08 PM



This study has been widely publicized and adds one more piece to the puzzle of why obesity is on the rise. For some people, it is a simple matter - calories in and calories out. But this equation does not address why people who want to be of normal weight find that goal so difficult to achieve and, even more important, retain! This study has made me think about the people in my life and how they influence me in my quest to lose weight and be more fit. For me it adds information to that offered by other studies on obesity, fitness, nutrition and exercise. I value that.

Posted July 27, 2007 11:59 AM



Who dreams up these studies? Not only are they pointless, they dont tell the entire story. It's like the old tobacco studies done in the 50's (funded by the tobacco industry of course) that showed no link between smoking and heart disease/cancer. What is this report really saying? However you do it, obesity comes down to calories in/calories out. So does it placate our lack of activity/eating habits/self-esteem to befriend others with the same ideals? People go to McDonald's in droves, even knowing that a big mac and fries has 1100 calories, 57g of fat, and a whopping 1.5g of sodium. How can anyone think that eating like that could not be self-destructive?
A long time ago, we bought into the sheep mentality. Society formed language, enterprise, customs, laws, morality, and even diets. Today it seems to mean that our vices are ok as long as others have the same vice. With all the information about food/exercise at our disposal, I dont get how we allow ourselves, or someone we call friend to become obese. My wife and I are very lucky that our closest friends are very active like us. It's easy for us, because at 50 (almost) we are empty-nesters, but we all like to eat healthy, and all it takes is for one person to want to go for a ski, golf, run, etc, and the group does it. In a recent "study" in our group, I found out that 3 out of 4 people make up 75% of the group.

Posted July 27, 2007 10:00 AM


This study appears to be just short of a spent on useless information. Ryan has it BMI has been increasing for 4 years now to the point where the medical community would consider me close to overweight, yet my body fat is between 9 and 10%. After changing my eating habits, weight training and a consistent dose of cardio, my BMI has gone from 22.5 to 27.5. The authors contention that "thinness is contagious" makes me wonder why most of those 2.8 trillion weight loss books purchased ended up on the garage sale table and not on the dinner table of someone in a cluster of thin people?

Posted July 27, 2007 09:32 AM



Interesting comments!
A few certainly raised my eyebrows to say the least.
This study basically deals with what health promotors refer to as the psycho-social aspects of disease development.It has been known for some time that individual behavior can influence the behavior of others close to them in many direct and even very subtle ways.
Just as group behavior can influence the manner in which an individual can think and subsequently act, this study illustrates an important factor in lifestyle dynamics. This acceptance of human lifestyle choices from those to whom we are close can have a very important impact upon our health.
Parents, spouses, friends and those in positions of influence take serious note!

Posted July 27, 2007 07:06 AM


We're eating up the planet! The over consumption of food is a global humanitarian issue. We, as North Americans, must stop being so incredibly selfish.

Posted July 27, 2007 12:18 AM


I just want to say how pleased I am that the cbc presented this information in a serious and mature fashion (as all news should be). This morning I was watching the same study being presented on Robin and Co (CNN) and Ms. Meade made jokes about this report which were both demeaning and juvenile. Humour has it's time and place in the news but should not be used to riducule others - in this case, those who are overweight. Thank you cbc for not being cnn.

Posted July 26, 2007 05:20 PM



This is a pointless study. You are responsible for your own actions. (as has been previously stated)

Dave hit it right on the head with his comments. BMI is garbage. People need to stop thinking about weight loss and start thinking about fat loss. Excess weight is not unhealthy. Excess fat is. The BMI does not distinguish between the 2.

Exercise is not an efficient means to burn calories. If this were so, we would have burned ourselves into extinction during our hunter/gatherer days. Look around. People are not walking themselves thin.
If someone loses weight by starting some form of activity, I'm willing to bet that they also became more strict with thier eating habits around the same time. I contend that the eating change is responsible for the improvement, and the activity is merely an association.

Basically: It's not what you put your body through. It's what you put through your body.

Posted July 26, 2007 03:18 PM


In response to the article as well as a few of the comments:

Studies are conducted, even though they may seem common sense, to bring a more formal backing to a well-known idea. In this case, we would think it obvious that peer pressure (not restricted to the adolescent years) effects how we eat and whether or not we will in fact gain weight, the study just goes to prove further the idea and besides it sounds a lot more professional in a conversation (superficial, I know).

there was a comment about aerobic exercise being ineffective for long term weight-loss. Of course if all you're doing is running, it will be. Drop by a high school gym class sometime and see what they're teaching. A combination of weights and aerobic exercise will help. Another thing the class will teach is that you have to increase your time/speed after it becomes too easy. Your body will plateau; it's natural that it'll become accustomed to the exercise.

What surprises me is that rarely is it mentioned that if you plan to lose weight by exercising, that it has to become a permanent fixture in your routine. Not reach your goal, then celebrate by indulging in a tub of your favourite ice cream and cake for the next week (exaggeration nevertheless). So, exercising in a group helps: women will encourage and try to out-do the smallest dress size and men will try to out compete each other.

Here, peer pressure is positive.

Posted July 26, 2007 02:35 PM



Regarding the saboteurs...the best thing i've found with this is to say "oh I can't I'm in training"....ohhhh awwwww and they leave you alone, many don't even ask what you're training for! Or sometimes I joke and say "no I can't...I'm an athlete now" and laugh....

Regarding the's not rocket science that like people will hang out...and of course parents (not just moms) eating habbits influence their children's habbits.

I do agree finding a group or a person that likes the same activities goes a long way in your fitness...some days they kick your butt in gear when you don't want to and other days you return the favour.

Posted July 26, 2007 02:25 PM



Hmm....were there not similar studies already published about smoking and drinking (alcohol) that showed the same results?
It should be no surprise that you hang out with people who value the same things as you do regardless of whether it is food, smokes, drugs, fitness, exercise or healthy lifestyle.

Posted July 26, 2007 02:02 PM



If Obesity is genetic then the percentage of people with it should stay roughly consatant or slightly increase. It should not triple in 20 years like we are seeing today. It also follows the diabeties levels or lags slightly behind. Genetics probably plays about ten percent of the equation. Just like type 2 diabetes. Clearly, Lifestyle is a major factor. In Cardiac rehab, we can help people who are obese; lose some weight, lower their sugar, BP and cholesterol through changing diet, exercise and by learning stress management skills like yoga, meditation, tai chi and so forth to boost the immune system and increase endorphins. If those factors can change, then clearly genetics is not the biggest factor. Social circles does make sense because it changes what we perceive to be normal "fatness".

Posted July 26, 2007 01:47 PM



It's not about buying into a study. It's about making choices, choices for which both have pros and cons.

I find the study to basically be preaching to the choir. Anyone knows that with more support, a lifestyle is more easily attainable.

Yes, we all have choices. I've had to ride against the wind sometimes in the face of eyerolls and "one piece isn't going to make you fat.... come ON! Just use moderation! Don't deprive yourself!" It forces me to make decisions about what's important, "fitting in" with my "friends", or feeling amazing physically, but quite often, that is what people ARE faced with.

For some people, "moderation" for certain "social" foods (which often are not food, just junk in a pretty wrapper)just does NOT work. It's far easier just to forget eating it altogether, than to fight the cravings that follow after eating "just one". But it's my responsibility to say "no".

Posted July 26, 2007 12:38 PM

Dave M

I can't believe people on this post are buying into this study

Like most obesity stories and studies its really bad science. It’s about as accurate as medieval tests to determine whether one is a witch.

BMI is not even a remotely accurate indicator of health or obesity.

While people may be addicted to food you can’t completely eliminate it so it can’t be compared with alcohol, gambling or drugs. You must eat.

Aerobic exercise and most diets are ineffective for permanent weight loss

Diets fail because they are too restrictive- A fat person eating 5,000 calories a day will lose weight effectively at 3,000 calories a day but most diets insist on 1000-1500 or about the same as the average German in 1945.

Did any of these geniuses figure out that perhaps out of shape fat people gravitate to others who share the same stigmas and prejudice so they feel safe? Or perhaps fit people stick together because they engage in the same sort of activities.

We can never deal fully with obesity until we deal with real scientific fact – not Junk science under the guise of respected journals.

Posted July 26, 2007 11:59 AM



to cathy h

Regarding saboteurs: It takes a strong will to take a stand and stick to it.

I've not always been successful, as sometimes it's just "pick your battles" and I've taken the freaking thing just to shut them up... Then the dichotomy comes, "Oh you're not really serious about your weight then..." can't win for losing, if pleasing other people is the objective.

I've come to the conclusion that the responsibility lies with me, EVEN IF people are going to object or protest, either passive-aggressively or blatantly.

If I know that "food x" triggers an addiction response, then no way no how, is anyone going to talk me into consuming it. It's definitely an addiction, because once offending food x is out of my system altogether, there can be piles of it in my house (I don't live alone) and I'll be oblivious.

So my addiction, my responsibility. Damn the torpedoes.

Posted July 26, 2007 11:23 AM

Brenda Johnson


How does this survey represent Loners. How fat are loners compared to the average person with a social circle of friend?

Posted July 26, 2007 11:21 AM



The most important information in the study from the New England Journal of Medicine is at the end of the main posting. People who get together to exercise have more success than those who try to go solo, and exercise is so important to our health in so many ways. Not only do you burn calories and improve your fitness level, you also feel better about yourself for having done something good for you. If you workout with others, there are also the added possible benefits of support, acceptance, and friendship with people trying to achieve similar goals. Exercising (particularly with like-minded people) can put you into a positive spiral where you want to watch what you eat and you can't wait for tomorrow's exercise group. I don't have any association with the Running Room, but I DO think they have done a great thing in getting people together for supportive exercise.

Here's a thought,... instead of going out with a friend for that cup of coffee and donut, why don't you tie on the runners and go for a walk together instead. You will feel so much better for it and you will have burned off calories instead of adding them to your daily total.

Posted July 26, 2007 10:52 AM

cathy h.

What do you do about the saboteurs? Ones that don't take no for an answer? The same ones that usually same ones that make the comments about your weight. You can only avoid them for so long.

Posted July 26, 2007 10:32 AM



What a big surprise! People hang out with people whose behavior and tastes are similar to their own. Or else, perhaps, people influence their friends' habits. Studies are getting sillier and sillier!

Posted July 26, 2007 09:59 AM



I am ultimately responsible for the choices I make for what goes in my mouth, and my exercise habits. The blame goes entirely on me.

That having been said, there is a lot of credit to be given for support of ones friends and family and workmates. When a person makes a lifestyle change for health and/or weight-loss reasons, it makes it a real social struggle for said person, unless the friends back that
person up.

Many social gatherings are entirely centered around what is eaten. When a person suddenly cuts out everything around which said social events are built, out of their diet and switches to natural food only, and they are the only one in their circle of friends doing it, it puts a
whole different dynamic on pizza parties :)

Here is some really sound advice for friends of people who make a
lifestyle change:

a) For some people, having "just a little" can be the loose thread which unravels a person's months of very hard work and dedication, and re-start the chain of addiction, so please be conscious if your friend says "no thank you" to that cake that you made "just for them!". They are not trying to offend you, they are merely trying to do what is best for their own body. For some, one slipup means weeks and months to regain momentum! Some mass-market foods are highly addictive, and staying away from it is the BEST course of action
for said people! Support them and encourage them.

b) Even if your friend has lost 5 dress sizes, it does not mean they have any desire to go back to their old habits. Please do not needle them with "oh, you're entitled, you've EARNED it! Don't be so extreme!". Even if it's a trade secret coveted recipe, and your great-aunt will be hurt if I don't eat it, I am not going to - deal with it!

Again, my choices. But the above things can have influence over how a person feels in their lifestyle.

Posted July 26, 2007 08:20 AM


This would be applicable to adults.
I wonder what is the influence of mother on young children?
In my experience, an obese mother might make kids obese as a by-product of her eating habits- and that is bad!

Posted July 26, 2007 07:51 AM

Nyx Wolfwalker

My mom is average weight (with in the BMI set out for her hight and age) my dad is considered to be underweight (my folks at in their late 60s an dhvae been married for over 35 years).

I've got about 60 extra pounds on my frame, but top the scales at just over 200 pounds of pure muscle. I'll never see what the BMI says I should be, and frankly at 27% body fat at the moment getting down to 20% would work just fine for me. And even then Id still be considered overweight or obease according to the BMI.

All my friends are either underweight or of average weight, I have no friends who are over weight or obease. Growing up was the same way, all friends where similor deals.

This study might well have some facts, but its not 100% for all people out there.

Posted July 26, 2007 02:55 AM

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Peter HadzipetrosPeter Hadzipetros is a producer for the Consumer and Health sites of CBC News Online. Until he got off the couch and got into long distance running a few years ago, he was a net importer of calories.

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