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Study Proves Having Fat Friends Makes You Fat 693

Xemu writes "Having fat friends makes you fat, researchers from Harvard Medical School and the University of California says after after examining 12,067 individuals and 38,611 of their relatives and friends. In same-sex friendships, people were 71 per cent more likely to put on weight if a friend of theirs became obese. "It's not that obese or non-obese people simply find other similar people to hang out with. Rather, there is a direct, causal relationship," says Harvard professor Nicholas Christakis."
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Study Proves Having Fat Friends Makes You Fat

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  • Old news (Score:5, Funny)

    by Average_Joe_Sixpack ( 534373 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @08:18PM (#19990243)
    This has been well known since the 80s []
    • by infonography ( 566403 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @10:41PM (#19991681) Homepage
      You Slashdotted YouTube.

      Yeah man, now we know who the big dogs are now. Yep.
  • BUT I'M STARVING! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by yotto ( 590067 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @08:18PM (#19990245) Homepage
    You want to go out to eat *again*!? Well, sure, I'll come along. I'm not hungry though. Maybe I'll just have some mozzarella sticks.
    • Get yer own mozzarella sticks. These two plates are for me.

      • Re:BUT I'M STARVING! (Score:4, Informative)

        by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @08:40PM (#19990467) Homepage
        I saw a show on discover/tlc/whatever the other day, about some severly overweight people. One guy ate 33000 Calories a day (actually, 33,000,000 calories, or 33,000 kilocalories if you want to be scientific). I thought about it, and that guy eats more in a day then I do in a week. Significantly more. They showed one of his meals, and it covered like an entire bed. Just the sausage course was like 6 sausages. there must have been at least 10 other plates there. All covered with greasy or sugar food. It was truly disgusting, and you wonder what the people bringing him the food (because he could no longer walk) were thinking.
  • Lunch, eh? (Score:3, Funny)

    by DaveM753 ( 844913 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @08:21PM (#19990273)
    Tomorrow I'm having lunch with my best buddy, Steve Ballmer. Should I be worried?
  • I think... (Score:5, Funny)

    by ziggyboy ( 232080 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @08:22PM (#19990289)
    CowboyNeal must be fat.
  • by resistant ( 221968 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @08:25PM (#19990315) Homepage Journal
    Eating is a social activity as well as a biological necessity. It's logical and obvious that hanging around with and seeing people right next to you in the same room comfortably stuffing their faces with delicious food, lots of it, will strongly suggest joining in on the same tasty chow. If you see them eat yummies many, many times, you'll quite likely eat more many, many times as well. It's a double whammy for all the most disciplined, self-fulfilled individuals.

    Dammit, now ... I ... I ... have to go cook something fatty and delicious ....
  • by myowntrueself ( 607117 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @08:25PM (#19990319)
    Just as people drive SUVs in order to feel safer sharing the road with other drivers in SUVs people gain weight in order to feel safer alongside other people who are big and fat and might otherwise crush them.
    • by j00r0m4nc3r ( 959816 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @09:36PM (#19991017)
      That's weird, I drive an SUV specifically to increase greenhouse gasses so the atmosphere will have the required 35% CO2 level required for when my alien compatriots arrive from Onos to join me in our feast of the fat plump humans.
    • by adrianmonk ( 890071 ) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @02:29AM (#19993251)

      Just as people drive SUVs in order to feel safer sharing the road with other drivers in SUVs people gain weight in order to feel safer alongside other people who are big and fat and might otherwise crush them.

      I'm not worried, because I have a plan. When the fat people come and try to crush me, I'm heading to the nearest stairwell. I'll go up one, maybe two, or even three floors. 30 minutes later, when the fat people have made it to the top of the stairs and caught their breath again, I'll have had time to set a buffet table to draw them off my trail. Finally, I'll go wait out the attack in the perfect hiding place, somewhere it'd never occur to them to go in a million years: the gym.

      The whole thing will probably unfold much like a zombie film, only in slow motion and with more labored breathing but approximately the same amount of grunting and moaning.

  • by bensafrickingenius ( 828123 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @08:27PM (#19990331)
    ...If my friends hear about this, they'll start abandoning me in droves...
  • as if fit folks would hang out with fat folks in the first place
  • Since this is a statistical study, and does not have a control group, this proves correlation only. It may simply be that people who are prone to obesity like to hang out together (you don't have to be obese to be prone to obesity, but you may develop it later). In order to have control, you would have to select people's friends for them. You would have to take a random sample of the population and pare some with randomly selected individuals (this is your control group) and pair others with obese indivi
  • yes but... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Brad1138 ( 590148 ) * <> on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @08:47PM (#19990553)
    do phat friends make you phat?
  • by MBCook ( 132727 ) <> on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @08:55PM (#19990613) Homepage

    People's "intelligence" on this issue continues to amaze me. What does AA tell you to do? Stop hanging out with alcoholics because you are more likely to repeat your behavior if you do. What does NA tell you to do? Stop hanging out with druggies because you are more likely to relapse. If you go to OA (Over-eaters Anon.) I'm guessing they tell you something similar.

    People follow their peers to a degree. People gain some weight, their friends see it and lose a little stigma of gaining weight, so they do, and the cycle repeats. If you are fat, you are more likely to hang out with other fat people. Thin people are more likely to not eat as much as you. They are more likely to give you a look for complaining about gaining weight while stuffing your face. Other fat people are likely to sympathize with you. After all, to tell you otherwise would be hypocritical (if they don't follow it) or "mean" (if they are working on it).

    Do you wonder why when you see families at malls they are usually all thin or all fat? It's not genes. Maybe that contributes some, but mostly it is diet. If the mom cooks healthy most of the time, the family will be exposed to that very often. If the dad exercises a lot, the kids and mom will be exposed to that. If they just buy fast food and junk all the time and snack lots, the kids will learn those behaviors. I'd bet the relation between close relatives in the same house is about the same as the relation between adoptive parents and children. The habits the kids/family learn are a huge part of things.

    I've lost a ton of weight. I didn't have a lot of tolerance for this before, and I'm losing what I have. The causes of obesity are not a mystery. They have been known for a LONG time. There are recent things that contribute (fast food, maybe HFCS, etc), but it is still no mystery. I'd peg it at mostly willpower and intolerance of anything that isn't fun or easy or doesn't feel good; an attitude that is becoming more and more common.

    Our attitude has changed. Being fat is much more accepted now. People complain about the "unfair standard" on TV, but it's not like you have no choice. I'll agree the near anorexic models are not realistic, but more and more people seem to be moving into "the blob" territory. I've seen more than a few ultra-obiese people on scooters recently, something I don't remember seeing even 10 years ago.

    It's people's fault. For most people it isn't fate. I see people who want to lose weight. Lots. Just about all complain. "I can't lose weight." Yet they continue to not exercise (or they do for about a week and then give it up). They either don't change their eating habits, give up the change after a week or two (which actually makes things worse for you), or change to eating "healthy" and end up eating constantly so the calories are just spread out over the day instead of in 3 huge meals. You don't need gastric bypass surgery. You don't need a miracle diet drug. You don't need a new diet food.

    To use make my point in an extreme way, how many people in bad POW camps were overweight. How many in areas with food shortage problems? How many people in the old prison work camps or working in coal mines were overweight? Basically none because these people either got very few calories, or burned a ton. Now some of these fates are horrific, but it proves that basically anyone can lose weight. These days there are only a few people who I would excuse from this requirement, and those are some people on very serious prescription drugs that have strong side effects.

    What does diet food do any way? As diet food became more common, people ate more of it. Each cookie may have had fewer calories, but a great many people made up for that with quantity. If someone did invent another miracle pill (something akin to Fen-Phen without the problems), I'm guessing most people would eventually start to gain weight again because they would start to eat more later. I think this is just like how many people who pay off debt with 2nd mortgages get back into debt.

    • by wrook ( 134116 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @11:19PM (#19992037) Homepage
      I know there are a lot of people reading this thread who want to lose some weight. Actually, I'm probably 20 lbs heavier than I'd like to be right now. Pay attention to the parent post. Losing weight isn't actually difficult. It's a natural consequence of your actions.

      But changing your actions can be difficult. Changing your whole life so you are "healthy" is a lifelong process. You can't do it in a day or a week or a year. It happens slowly over time. Trying to do more than you can do right now will do more harm than good.

      I don't know if it will help anybody, but I'll leave some advice that's helped me in the past.

      First, accept where you are. If you are 350 lbs, then you are 350 lbs. There is nothing in the world that can change that right now. In the future, your actions can have an impact on your weight. But nothing you do will affect your weight in the present. So relax. Life is still good. Get on with it and don't worry about it.

      Second, measure yourself every day. If you are interested in your weight, then get a scale and step on it every day. Don't do this until you've finished step 1. If you can't look at your weight without being disgusted, then you can't improve. You *must* accept where you are and merely record your weight.

      Third, pick some exercise that you can do and do it 6 days a week. I like running. If you are really heavy, then biking or swimming might be better. It doesn't really matter what you pick. But understand that the lower the intensity (i.e., the less energy it burns) the more time you have to do it. Try to find someone experienced to help you. The Running Room has free running clinics around here which are very good. Or you can do some sports at a community center very cheaply. The important thing is to do it *every day* (Well, I allow one day of rest).

      When doing the exercise, start with an intensity and duration that makes you very tired. Every week add 10-15% to the duration. Adjust your intensity so that you are at about 80% exertion level (hard to guage when you first start, but you'll figure it out over time).

      Fourth record your progress. If you are able to increase the duration and intensity every week, keep going. If not, back off for a week. It is possible to overtrain.

      Fifth learn the difference between "Good hurt" and "Bad hurt". Talk to people who know about your sport. Understand what the difference is for your sport. "Good hurt" is something that's sore that won't lead to
      injury if you continue to train. "Bad hurt" is something that is getting injured as you train. For a variety of sports, it's difficult for a novice to tell the difference. Make sure to keep training even if you have "Good hurt". Take a break if you have "Bad hurt".

      Note: At the beginning you will almost certainly experience a lot of "Good Hurt". Don't let it stop you. Push through it. It *does* go away. For running I find that you can start getting good runs somewhere in the 3rd week. If you have only tried exercising regularly (i.e. 6 days a week) for less than a month, then it's possible you have never experienced a good training day. Keep it up for at least 2 months before you decide you don't like the sport. It's easy to switch sports at that point anyway.

      Six keep track of what you are eating. Writing it down is fine. Don't worry so much about it. But make sure you observe what you eat. Pay attention to it. As you continue training, the diet will often take care of itself. I've observed this many many times. I don't know why it works, but it does. As you start to train harder and harder, you will often start to eat much better. I don't know why.

      Seven expect to ultimately be spending 1 to 2 hours a day training. Your final level will ultimately be determined by your interest. But that's a reasonable amount. Of course when you first start, that amount of time seems completely impossible. That's why you start small and increment by 10%.

      Expect it to take 4-6 mon
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Congratulations! You became a bitter, self-hating prick when you were chubby, and have transferred those self-hating feelings onto people who remind you of the way you used to be.

      Our attitude has changed. Being fat is much more accepted now. People complain about the "unfair standard" on TV, but it's not like you have no choice.

      Being gay is much more accepted now. Being black or Jewish is much more accepted now. I don't want to get into the "matter of choice" distinction--most people aren't clever enough to make that distinction to begin with, so that's not a factor in this. We're just more tolerant of those who are different than we used to be. And ye

  • by bananaendian ( 928499 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @09:03PM (#19990697) Homepage Journal
    But I have no friends, yet I'm still fat ?
  • by BillGatesLoveChild ( 1046184 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @09:17PM (#19990817) Journal
    I'm suspicious of this fat-friends-make-you-fat story. Heard 'experts' on radio this morning repeating this story, using words like 'infectious', 'contagious'. Smacks of Sensationalist Journalism, and Susy Public will go away thinking she'll get fat if she sits next to a fat person.

    This on the other hand is a much better story: /1969924.htm []

    It's an interview with Dr Robert Lustig, Professor of Pediatric Endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco. He says, yes, we're getting fat, but the question is why our bodies don't enact a defense against this. One of the culprits: Fructose (Corn Syrup) which food and drink manufacturers have been putting in everything. Your body has real problems regulating this. Fructose with Fibre is ok (an Orange), but without Fibre it's very bad (Orange Juice). Apart from the vitamins, you might as well be drinking pop. Very interesting link: transcript and MP3.
  • by The Orange Mage ( 1057436 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @10:41PM (#19991683) Homepage

    Obesity is a condition based on the terrible BMI chart, which was NEVER meant to be used the way it is today. It's more of a vague approximation.

    What Obesity really is is a symptom. Obesity is NOT the cause of all those health problems that doctors try to blame on it (which is just about everything these days). The only thing that Obesity would cause is join pain in the knees and other things like that that actually make sense. Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems...they're all from poor nutrition, lack of exercise, and genetics, NOT from being "overweight."

    It's perfectly possible to be "overweight" or even "obese" (according to the all-knowing BMI) and be perfectly healthy. The diet industry would just like you to think otherwise, and spend your life unhappy, looking for an answer to this "problem" that they've convinced society is the worst thing possible

    What percentages of diets fail? Now remember, failing means either giving up, or putting on at least 80% of what was lost?

    Try 95%. And often, failed diets result in MORE weight put back on. Your body senses the diet as a lack of food, and over a period of yo-yo dieting DECREASES your metabolism. Yo-yo dieting is definitely more harmful than if you stayed at the same weight.

    Just eat healthier, get some exercise, and learn to love your body, no matter how it looks. It's not about inches or pounds, it's about the crap INSIDE your body working the way it should.

  • But wait... (Score:4, Funny)

    by ntimid8 ( 980393 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @10:53PM (#19991775)
    I thought fat friends made you look thin?
  • by nbauman ( 624611 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @11:07PM (#19991905) Homepage Journal
    I have an unfair advantage because I subscribe to the NEJM, and I actually read the article.

    But you can too because they apparently put it on the Internet free []
    New England Journal of Medicine
    The Spread of Obesity in a Large Social Network over 32 Years
    Nicholas A. Christakis, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., and James H. Fowler, Ph.D.
    357:370-379 July 26, 2007

    Slashdotters will no doubt be interested in the Kamada-Kawai algorithm in Pajek software which is used to generate the social network images like this one /F1 [] Networks are where it's at today.

    They had 12,000 subjects (from the Framingham Heart Study) who had filled out detailed questionnaires, including the names of people (often also in the study) whom they regarded as friends. They compared friends, spouses, siblings and neighbors.

    There were 3 kinds of friends: (1) I consider you my friend, and vice versa (2) I consider you my friend, but you don't consider me your friend (3) You consider me your friend, but I don't consider you my friend.

    The strongest influence was on mutual friends. In case (2), if you were fat, you would influence me, but not vice versa.

    They tried to prove that it was a causal effect, and not just an association, by watching to see what happens over time. If friend A gets fat, friend B gets fat a year later.

    Mutual friends had the strongest influence. Women friends had a stronger influence than male friends.

    Opposite-sex friends had no effect on each other.

    Siblings had an effect on each other. But same-sex siblings had the strongest effect, and opposite-sex siblings had the least effect (almost none).

    Spouses had a slightly weaker effect. (Which is surprising if you expect them to eat the same food.)

    Neighbors had no effect on each other. So it has nothing to do with the driving distance to Macdonalds.

    You could run that social networking analysis program on Slashdot.

  • by creysoft ( 856713 ) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @01:17AM (#19992903)
    You're fat. And don't try to sugar coat it either, or you'll probably just eat that too.

What this country needs is a good five cent ANYTHING!