your family and friends may spread obesity:Believe me. I’ve had some rotten friends. You know that guy, you’ve known him since high school and all he’s ever done for you is not pay back loans and ground potato chips into your couch. But in my twenty-six years of life I’ve never had a friend who made me fat. Amanda Gardner of HealthDay News reports,
This may be literally true, according to Harvard researchers who suggested in the July 26 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine that obesity, or the trend to thinness, is socially contagious, "spreading" through social ties.I don’t know about obesity, but my family members are experts at spreading aggravation. For more on this research, listen to this chat with New York Times reporter Gina Kolata. Or, check out this video via the New York Times:
"This reinforces the idea that because people are interconnected, their health is interconnected," said study author Dr. Nicholas A. Christakis, a professor at Harvard University. "It takes seriously the embedded-ness of people within social networks and gives new meaning to the concept of public health."
While this may cause people to look differently at their friends and acquaintances (both overweight and thin), the real value of the research is in pointing to new ways to combat the growing epidemic of overweight and obesity, experts said.
"Trying to address the problem on an individual level has been so hard, and it may be because we're not addressing the network, which could be family, neighborhood, community, school," said Dr. Julio Licinio, chairman of the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. "This is a fascinating way to look at the problem, and it may be a very good reason why treatments have been so difficult, because we're only addressing one member of the network."