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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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  • 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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @08:32PM (#19990377)
    You are so right. My brothers old girlfriend was on the 'large and lovely' side of the tracks, so was he actually. Anyways, it was more than once I heard one of her fat friends tell another that they didn't eat enough, nor were they fat enough. All the girls they knew were fat. Like it was some badge of honor. I realize that there may be some other problems at work here, physical as well as psychological, but the encouragement from one to the next was mind bending. I could never figure out why it was a good thing to have a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and plenty of other health problems.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @08:32PM (#19990381)
    "Having fat friends makes you fat" implies that if you have fat friends, you have no choice but to become fat. This is untrue. Article is, once again, idiotic and pure flamebait.

    Way to go, samzenpus. Slashdot, sigh.
  • by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @08:32PM (#19990383) Homepage Journal
    Eating is the new terrorist

    When they took away my drugs I did not speak up.
    When they took away my nicotine I did not speak up.
    When they took away my food...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @08:35PM (#19990415)
    Sometimes it's a pretty damn good hint.
  • by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @08:36PM (#19990417)
    Correlation does not mean causation... 'nuff said.

    Did you RTFA? Or just assume correlation.

    It could very well be like many other biological items... like women who spend time together tend to align their menstrual cycles... or do you think that's another 'correlation'?

    Perhaps the body takes 'fat cues' from your peer group -- if you spend a lot of time with fat people your that might trigger a biological response to store energy... in the same way that throwing up is 'contagious'... where your body sees others doing something, and this triggers the same survival instinct says that if something the people around you ate is making them sick it might be a good idea to get rid of whatever you ate too, since its likely the same stuff.

    I'm not saying its true and even if it is true, I'd expect there are likely other elements at play too -- like if you hang out with people who don't excersie you'll probably be less inclined to exercise yourself -- etc, but just writing it off with a sarcastic 'correlation not causation 'nuff said' post is just close minded and ignorant.

    I'd certainly be interested in knowing if there is a biological/biochemical factor to it.

  • by Tangerinux ( 1133055 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @08:37PM (#19990429)
    it's better than nothing :'(
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @08:39PM (#19990463)
    And those depressed people? They need to cheer up. It's all about the choices they made dammit. Quit blaming others.

    Smokers? They need to stop smoking! It's all about the choices they made dammit. Quit blaming others.

    Skinny geeks? They need to get more exercise and eat better food! It's all about the choices they made dammit. Quit blaming others.

    I really wish that scientists and doctors would quit trying to hand out excuses.
    Too many people today blame anyone or anything but themselves for the dilemmas they find themselves in.
  • Re:Cruel (Score:4, Insightful)

    by notasheep ( 220779 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @08:40PM (#19990475)
    Sorry, but if you take a look around you (at least in the US) fat people are definitely the majority.

  • How dare you! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spy der Mann ( 805235 ) <spydermann.slash ... il.com minus cat> on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @08:41PM (#19990483) Homepage Journal
    I'm going to protest against your discrimination! It's not that I'm the main cause of my obesity, it's everyone else's fault! I should sue them for trying to make me eat more!</sarcasm>
  • by 2.7182 ( 819680 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @08:42PM (#19990493)
    If you are hanging around with gay people you probably are gay.
  • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @08:44PM (#19990515) Homepage
    We have one guy at work who eats lunch at Wendy's every day. Not salad Wendy's, but frosty (milkshake), burger, and fries Wendy's. One day he grabbed a cinnamon roll at the connected Tim Hortons and talked about how he had a low carb lunch. He's not really that big, a bit overweight, possibly borderline obese according to BMI standards, but it's just so odd to listen to him talk about how he's trying to eat healthier, and then watch him go to Wendy's everyday.
  • by Wordsmith ( 183749 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @08:46PM (#19990539) Homepage
    No one is making excuses. They're making observations.

    They're not claiming that fat rubs off from one person onto another. But friends engage in similar behaviors to one another - that's socialization. The scientists' observation will apply less to those with strong will and more to those who follow group behaviors. Nothing in what these scientists have observed contradicts the idea of personal responsibility; they're making the rather bland discovery that people tend to act like those with whom they identify and those with whom they enjoy spending time. You sound a little too quick to jump the gun with the fed-up borderline-hostile response.

    That being said, while weight and physical health are more dependent on personal choices than most would like to believe, to discount the impact of biological and genetic factors outright is just silly. Personal choice has an influence, as do circumstances beyond the person's control; how much is to blame for a given case depends on the person.
  • by Craig Davison ( 37723 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @08:50PM (#19990575)
    We all know that in the end you make your own choices about eating habits/exercise, but the study sheds some light on the effects of social situations and peers on your choices.

    This is psychology, which effects all of us. And they did do a scientific study. Why would someone make a bad choice? There are more interesting answers than the standard, intellectually lazy "it's their own damn fault. period.".
  • by Spy der Mann ( 805235 ) <spydermann.slash ... il.com minus cat> on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @08:52PM (#19990593) Homepage Journal
    Does having dumb friends make you dumb?

    No, but socializing with them will make you ACT like if you're dumb. The point of the study is that you LEARN from your friends to eat more and more often.
  • by MBCook ( 132727 ) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> 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 CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @09:00PM (#19990651) Homepage
    Yes, there are some rare cases. However, the majority of fat people are not fat because of a thyroid problem. Using rare cases as a counterexample is not a very good argument. Almost 1/3 [mcw.edu] of the people in the US are obese. That's disgusting. Thyroid problems do not account for that high of a percentage of people being overweight.
  • by TheRealMindChild ( 743925 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @09:04PM (#19990703) Homepage Journal
    Ok, you are a typical idiot, but I will even elaborate with a story. I had a girlfriend in high school. We dated for a little over three years. Being young and nieve, I always wanted to be with her. Before I go further, she was heavy... ~5' 6", 200lbs. I was 5' 7", 130lbs. After school, she would WALK from her house to pick me up, we would WALK back to her house, she would WALK me home, then WALK home herself. Now this is the part where you have to pay attention. I am not exaggerating in the slightest... in my parents car, one way to her house was 6.2 miles. We walked on the very sidewalks along said roads. That is almost 25 miles of walking... in ONE DAY. And we did this practically EVERY DAY (I liked the sex, she was needy). And here is the best part... she never ate lunch at school. She usually had dinner at my house.

    She never lost an ounce of weight. She went through a lot of shoes though.

    Eat less and excersize more doesn't always cut it. First hand I have SEEN this.
  • You fail it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dedazo ( 737510 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @09:04PM (#19990713) Journal
    The implication is that obesity in this context is caused by the social and cultural environment you function in and the peer pressure exerted by the types of people you frequent within that environment. If all your friends eat greasy burgers and pizza and have beer and then plop down to watch the game, you are likely to do the same to fit in. You also change your expectation of what health and looks are based on the people who are around you most of the time. Grok?

    It's truly dumb to make it sound like you're outraged because the study says your fat friends will make you fat if they touch you.

  • by nack107 ( 704482 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @09:06PM (#19990727)
    What about the very simple old sayings of "birds of a feather", etc... If I have a close friend, regardless of where they live, that person is probably going to be very similar to me. That means, if I'm a person that eats a lot because I am depressed or stressed out or any of a number of reasons, my close friend probably does too. Its not a causation. Its a grouping of similar personalities, which in essence what friendship often is.
  • by BlueHands ( 142945 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @09:10PM (#19990767)
    This sort of attitude always bothers me.

    First,glad to know that you have done your own extensive, scientific study. I guess it is a shame you just have not released it yet. We all await it eagerly, i can tell you.

    Secondly, the real problem with the argument that everyone chooses everything they do is that there is some truth to it. There is more untruth, but that sliver is something people gasp and never let go. An example which you will like ignore follows:

    25% of the population lack a gene. This lack means that it is harder for them to get enjoyment from smoking. It also makes it easier to quit when they try. By your logic that gene has nothing to do with it and it is merely a choice. However, without knowing ANYTHING else about a group of people except whither or not they lack the gene, i can predict more accurately how hard it will quit then someone who knows nothing. This is not a question of will power but of biology.

    People are not created equal, people have different needs and tolerances. Something YOU can control someone else can not. Not because it is a flaw, but because they are not you. You maybe able to eat or not eat as is your whim yet maybe you can not control your anger. We are a messy, wiggly species with the most convoluted lump of matter in the universe between our ears. And you think you control it.

    You are not in control of everything in you life, you do not choose to do everything you do. Your heart beats, your feet sweat, your hair grows. People being made aware of the things that shape their lives is nothing but good. People who are social around each tend to do the same sort of things,in a natural and HEALTHY way. This study underlines that.

    Your hard line stance is wrong, does nothing to help and merely contains a note of derision and contempt. I hope you learn to accept the things that are beyond your control.
  • There's a simpler explanation - fat people seek out fatter people as friends, so they won't look so fat when they stand beside them.

    You might laugh, but its true. Fat people can't easily strike up friendships with skinny people. They don't do the same things. How is a skinny person going to play tennis with a fat person? Or long walks? Or roller blading? Or riding a bike? Or even long shopping trips at the mall ... Or anything else that doesn't involve sitting more or less motionless ...

    So fat people hang out with fat people, both because they are looking for assurance that they themselves aren't as fat as some other people, and because they don't have all that many options.

    So of course, when you get fat people together, they reinforce each others habits of inactivity and over-eating ... so yes, fat friends will make you fat(ter).

    BTW - if you're fat and don't have any friends fatter than you, you're the one that fat people want to stand beside when its time to take pictures. Time to cut out the crap food, the too-big portions, the second helpings, and start starving yourself, because nothing else will work. And no, you don't have a glandular problem - you got that way one bite at a time, just like everyone else.

  • Re:Cruel (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mbeans ( 1082073 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @09:36PM (#19991013)
    Being fat is a choice. You choose to start the day with bacon and eggs, you choose to drink soda and other high-calorie beverages, you choose to stuff those cheeseburgers into your fat face. You choose not to get up off your ass and get some exercise.

    Comparing yourselves to minorities who have actually been oppressed is sickening.
  • by brarrr ( 99867 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @09:48PM (#19991151) Journal
    I suggest you read the peer-reviewed journal article rather than sounding off with the oft-repeated (and often true) correlation/causation comment. There's a reason they look at so many cases in the study... and there's a reason that the journals are peer reviewed.
  • No, it doesn't. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Frequency Domain ( 601421 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @09:53PM (#19991199)
    What you've quoted describes an observational study, one in which you observe outcomes but can't or don't intervene. Correlation can be because one of the outcomes causes the other, but in order to prove causality you need to perform controlled experiments in which you can vary potential causal factors and observe the effects of your intervention. You cannot prove causality with observational studies because there is always the possibility of spurious correlation (things just happened to happen together) or of some unobserved factor being an underlying cause for both the phenomena that you think are linked. For example, in Finland the number of deaths per month by drowning and the monthly per-capita consumption of ice cream are very strongly correlated. Does that mean that eating ice cream increases the hazard of drowning? No, it means that Finns eat ice cream more frequently during the same months they go swimming, i.e., in the summer. The actual cause in both cases is the seasonality of both behaviors.
  • Re:Cruel (Score:3, Insightful)

    by profplump ( 309017 ) <zach-slashjunk@kotlarek.com> on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @09:58PM (#19991249)
    Religion is a choice too, but we decided it's not reasonable to discriminate on that basis.

    Does it also sicken you to compare religious oppression to racial oppression?
  • by nwbvt ( 768631 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @10:09PM (#19991359)

    "It could very well be like many other biological items... like women who spend time together tend to align their menstrual cycles... or do you think that's another 'correlation'?"

    There we have actual evidence that hormones play a role. If all we had was a study showing that women who live together have closely aligned menstrual cycles, all we would have would be a correlation and no evidence of a causation. It could easily be a statistical coincidence, or it could be caused by common environmental factors. It would be irresponsible for a scientists to claim one woman's period can cause another woman's period with just that information.

    "Perhaps the body takes 'fat cues' from your peer group -- if you spend a lot of time with fat people your that might trigger a biological response to store energy..."

    Thats nothing but pure speculation by a /.er who obviously has no knowledge of the scientific process. And who is obviously ignorant of the study (did you RTFA?), as proximity had no impact (there is a correlation between fat friends across the country, but not fat neighbors living next door to each other). Its about the equivalent of me speculating that Lindsey Lohan (or whatever her name is) was carrying those drugs because a drug lord had kidnapped her parents and was forcing her to drive them to Portugal. In other words, your hypothesis is completely useless, and by stating it all you have done is waste precious brainpower.

    The only hypothesis I've heard regarding it is that it is caused by a person's standards of what is an ideal weight being set by their friends. And thats a hypothesis. No one in the study is claiming having a fat friend causes you to be fat, because they understand the fact that correlation does not mean causation.

    "but just writing it off with a sarcastic 'correlation not causation 'nuff said' post is just close minded and ignorant."

    Its not "writing it off" to state that the /. headline (Study Proves Having Fat Friends Makes You Fat) is badly worded at best.

  • by fractoid ( 1076465 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @10:15PM (#19991413) Homepage
    And exercising will make your metabolism speed up. And the muscles you grow while exercising will, all on their own, even when they're not being actively used, burn up more calories than the fat they replace. There are two things that make you lose weight, and they work best when used together. Eat less. Exercise more. It's not freakin' rocket science.
  • Re:Cruel (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Macgrrl ( 762836 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @10:16PM (#19991419)

    Not being a minority did stop women from being treated that way for millenium...

    Perhaps it is more accurate to say that fat people are th elast socialy acceptable peer group to abuse. The main reason for this is because it is perceived to be a lack of will power or moral fibre that got them that way in the first place.

    Oddly enough, obesity seems to be mostly a disease of first world societies. Could it be that human evolved to live in an environment of scarcity and that in 2-3 generations we haven't yet managed to rewire ourselves to adjust to living in an environment of plenty.

    The reason that the majority of people are overweight is that for normal[1] people living normal[1] lives they consume far more calories than they burn.

    [1] Normal is a mathematical concept. It is a form of average. If we want to change what normal is we need significant social change regarding lifestyles to permit people to eat healither foods, have the time and motivation to exercise physically and to show more restraint in what they consume.

    And it is likely it will take a major shift in work/life balance across all sectors of industry for this to happen.

    This isn't saying people can't take personal responsibility for their actions, it's saying that human nature being what it is, unless it is easier to live a healthy life than it is to live an unhealthy life - people will continue to expand.

  • Re:Cruel (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dugjohnson ( 920519 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @10:18PM (#19991457) Homepage
    That's because us fat people don't walk around. How do you think we got fat?
  • Going to the gym or doing other physical activity regularly (4-5 times per week) at the same time as cutting out the junk (i.e. only eat the stuff your body _needs_) would probably be a lot more helpful than going on a starvation diet. Starve yourself and the body goes into self preservation mode; the moment you start eating again it will put it on like as if you're in for another period of starvation next.

    If you make exercise a daily thing, you can enjoy a very healthy appetite. For all beer drinkers out there, some of the new low carb ones are phenomenal stuff - we've got Carlton's Pure Blondes in Australia and they're great.
  • Re:Cruel (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mbeans ( 1082073 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @10:26PM (#19991549)
    Religion is not a choice, parents force it on their children. Get someone young enough, and it takes a lot of insight and rational thought to shake it, more than most people have.

    Even if you grow up a fat kid (I did), you can lose the weight when you get old enough to realize that being obese is not in your long term interest.
  • by cduffy ( 652 ) <charles+slashdot@dyfis.net> on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @10:26PM (#19991555)
    They're arguing that there's a causal correlation -- not that individuals can't excempt themselves from being one of the cases acting in accordance with the trend. It's like as study that says that eating McDonalds once a day makes you fat. To use your logic, such a study would be BS because people who eat McDonalds daily can work out for a few hours and counteract the effect. Obviously, that study would not mean that people who eat McDonalds once a day can't possibly lose weight -- and likewise, this one does not in fact imply that people who hang out with fat people can't lose weight either; in claiming otherwise, you're setting up an intentionally easy-to-knock-down strawman.

    As for me, my personal experience leaves me inclined to trust this study's results. When I was in college, I lost a lot of weight without consciously thinking about it (or changing my diet, which was dictated by my personal finances, and thus fairly constant, at the time) when I was chasing after a thin woman, to the point where some ex-roommates referred to me as "half of Duff" when meeting me in the library; that trend ended roughly when our friendship became more distant and I was less focused on getting her attention.

    So -- I'm perfectly willing to believe that, in the absence of other factors, hanging out with thin people makes it easier for one to lose weight without making conscious decisions to do so, and that hanging out with fat people gives one a predisposition towards gaining weight. Obviously, neither of these is foolproof -- failing to exercise will have a bigger influence than hanging out with thin people, and planning one's diet carefully will have a bigger influence than hanging out with fat people -- but that's not to say that this isn't a legitimate influence, and well worth knowing about.
  • Hard to believe (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @10:27PM (#19991561)
    You're describing about 8 hours of walking on a daily basis, above and beyond your normal school day and any other activities you might have had. That seems really unlikely.
  • by nwbvt ( 768631 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @10:28PM (#19991567)

    First, walking at a leisurely pace is not the same as working out strenuously.

    Second, unless you stalked her while you were dating, you have no way of knowing how many Twinkies she scarfed down while you were not looking.

    Third, unless you stalked her before you were dating, you have no way of knowing whether or not she was eating less and exercising more than normal. Just because someone has a slow metabolism and it takes more exercise for them to maintain a healthy weight than other people does not mean they can't lose weight. It means their body needs more exercise or less food than other people.

    Fourth, you lost all credibility with your second sentence anyways.

  • 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.

  • 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:Cruel (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mr2001 ( 90979 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @11:25PM (#19992079) Homepage Journal
    Eating and exercise habits take a lot of work to change, just like religious habits. I wouldn't assume they're any easier.
  • by Tim_UWA ( 1015591 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @11:44PM (#19992221)
    Beer [wikipedia.org] does not [wikipedia.org] make you fat [wikipedia.org], although the results of these sorts of studies tend to change every couple of years. Of course, if you do go out drinking, you probably eat a few packets of chips and a kebab or two, but drinking low carb beer isn't really going to change that (and it tastes like shit).
  • Re:Cruel (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Mr2001 ( 90979 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @11:45PM (#19992225) Homepage Journal

    Perhaps it is more accurate to say that fat people are th elast socialy acceptable peer group to abuse.
    No, young people still hold that title. There are no stores installing special sound emitters to keep fat people away, no laws saying fat people have to stay inside after 9:00 PM or that they can't drive with other fat people in the car. Fat people can still vote, work, own property, etc. And although one might argue that not all fat people got that way through their own personal choices, no young person ever had an opportunity to choose the year he was born.
  • by Frangible ( 881728 ) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @12:07AM (#19992425)
    Your body can only reduce the metabolism by about 20% (and it rarely ever gets to that point, generally only beneath 10% body fat), but there are post-diet refeeding effects as your bastard hypothalamus likes to maintain a body weight set point (which is actually composed of dynamic factors and isn't fixed, but it's too complex to get into here)

    The most difficult thing is always, always the psychological factors. Starvation dieting with minimal protein intake and fruits/veggies etc to maintain lean body mass is actually incredibly effective. However, the adherence rate is quite low. Your brain only has so much self-control, and using self-control in one thing has been shown to diminish it in others in studies, thus making some behavior more impulsive/avoidant, which can certainly cause problems with diet and exercise.

    Physiologically though? It can be quite effective. Psychologically, probably quite difficult unless you're railing a lot of coke.

    One thing I have learned is that the physiology of weight loss is almost irrelevant; it is all about the psychology. Transforming like of bad food to not like, transforming not like of good food to like, transforming not like of physical exertion to like, transforming like of sedentary activity to not like. But at every turn, the brain itself resists change and makes this a very difficult struggle.

    As the saying in KOTOR went, "passion gives me strength." I think passion for what you want, and passion for every step along that path is key, because if you hate it and just want to continue doing what you've always done, you will is going to fail and you won't be able to do it consistently.

    But actually creating genuine passion for something you don't like, and diminishing that for what you do like, now that's a bitch.
  • by misanthrope101 ( 253915 ) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @01:41AM (#19993027)
    You can't ever prove causation--it's an inference. It isn't written in really small words on viruses and bacteria that they cause disease, but from the high correlation between their presence and disease, we infer that they are the causative agent. We are aware than not all correlation involves causation--thanks for pointing out the obvious--but the task of thinking people is to figure out the cases in which causation can reliably be inferred.
  • yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by misanthrope101 ( 253915 ) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @01:59AM (#19993121)
    I'd guess you were joking, but hanging out with dumb people makes you dumb. The jokes you share, the vocabulary you use, the activities you participate in, are all shared with your friends. If you're smart but hang out with dumb people, your intellect will get less exercise because you will dumb down your conversation. You will use simpler, less nuanced arguments--you may just be left with slogans and ad hominem attacks to make your point. You'll rely more on TV to inform you, and less on reading, which is a cerebral, more solitary experience. The company you keep is normative, like it or not. Surround yourself with people smarter than yourself, and you will become smarter. This doesn't mean you'll discover cold fusion, but the idea is still sound.
  • by iamblades ( 238964 ) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @02:01AM (#19993131) Homepage
    HFCS is not the problem. The problem is simple, too many calories in, too few calories out.

    HFCS is no worse for you than sucrose, and because it is sweeter than cane sugar per calorie, it may even be better.

    The real answer is that calorie consumption has increase over 20 percent since 1980, and physical activity has probably decreased during the same period.

    Check the graph on page 3:

    http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/FoodReview/DE C2002/frvol25i3a.pdf [usda.gov]

    People always like to place blame on external target rather than looking at the real problem, that people eat too much. It's easy to blame HFCS (though its no worse than sugar) or fatty foods (though many countries eat much more fat than we do yet don't get fat). Much harder to look at the situation honestly and say that we are a bunch of lazy gluttons.

    'It's all the fault of Nixon and that damned HFCS!' Is a great feelgood answer that doesn't hurt anyones feelings, but it simply isn't the truth.
  • Re:yes (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Catil ( 1063380 ) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @03:45AM (#19993635)
    I hope this doesn't apply to working with dumb coworkers :o

    Seriously though, yes, friends are probably more likely to eat the same type of food. In the the same way they are also more likely to share the same hobbies, listen to the same music, watch the same movies, wear the the same type of clothes and even share opinions and political views; and, to think of the children, if your friends are doing drugs, you are perhaps also more likely to try them too.
    It's called peer pressure.
  • by Louis Guerin ( 728805 ) <guerin@gm[ ]et ['x.n' in gap]> on Thursday July 26, 2007 @05:07AM (#19994019)
    "It's good in theory and all but fat people are unattractive - we are genetically programmed to think fat people are ugly."

    More eurocentric bollocks from someone who probably thinks Discovery is some sort of substitute for an education.

    In much of sub-Saharan Africa and in the Pacific Islands, fat (and even obesity) is traditionally considered a mark of beauty, health, wealth, fertility and status.

    It was even so in Europe, not so many generations ago. Go back and look at some renaissance paintings - Botticelli is a good example. See the fat Venus? That means Venus had plenty to eat and was not in danger of starvation, which (among other things makes her a very viable mother of children. IN medieval Japan, samurai traditionally cultivated a good rotund pot. Why? Because the dominant fighting style of the day placed great utility on balance and stability, and a low centre of gravity provides this well. For the vast bulk (heh) of human history, malnutrition has been a much more significant threat to survival than obesity. The trend toward thin women and athletic men being attractive happened broadly as food supply problems lessened and has achieved its natural conclusion in the most affluent societies, where overeating is now a far greater risk than malnutrition in the usual case.

    You think the modern obesity aversion is genetic; it's not. It's cultural. If we faced a few hundred years of severe food shortage, you'd probably see it reverse.

  • 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 yes, that'll transfer onto fat people, at least insofar as there aren't pricks running around insulting people over their weight.

    By the way, the relationship is NOT causal. It may be contributory. It may be "enabling".

    That's a form of causality. You can quibble over terminology as much as you want, but if a term is used in a specific way in a specific context consistently, that's the standard meaning within that context. That's how language works. And getting into semantic quibbles over it just to justify your prejudice against fat people is just silly.

    I'm not saying obesity is the bee's knees, but unless you're an athlete (well, other than a football lineman or sumo wrestler), it could very well be that accepting a little fatness will actually improve your quality of life, all things considered. There's only 24 hours in a day, and even given the endorphin rush, I don't always want to spend one of those hours on a cardio machine. Maybe I have work, or maybe I want to study the news or read a book. There's a certain point where I'd rather be better informed, better read, and wealthier at the expense of being a little pudgy. I might even complain that I'm a little heavier than I want to be, and while in some crazy possible world you conjure up I'd be skinny because I'd be in a POW camp, that may just be a necessary tradeoff for my overall quality of life. And I may very well complain that food ingredients and additives change so that tradeoff isn't so necessary or severe. Or I might rue my poor genetics--wouldn't be the first time. But if you want to just keep on appointing yourself the giver of unsolicited advice about how I take care of my body, I just might have to sit on you and break some of your ribs.

  • by boldie ( 1016145 ) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @07:00AM (#19994479)
    It IS as simple as too many calories in, too few calories out. The WHY is not as simple.
  • by plague3106 ( 71849 ) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @08:18AM (#19994889)
    Wrong advise, bread is the worse thing to use to replace anything. Too many carbs. You need protein to make you feel full. Tell your friends to reduce portions and have a snack of say an apple + 1 tbsp. of peanut butter. Oh and you're right, exercise.
  • Re:Cruel (Score:2, Insightful)

    by that IT girl ( 864406 ) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @09:04AM (#19995305) Journal
    I agree with and sympathize with your situation. The only thing I'd like to point out is that you don't have to isolate yourself or refuse to go out with friends and family--just make better food choices. Order a salad or an appetizer for your meal. At the pot-luck, get smaller portions of each thing you really want, and fruit or something for dessert. If you look you can find it. Please don't isolate yourself because of the way you look. If they're real friends, your physical appearance won't matter to them and they'll treat you the same.

    Kudos for your weight loss so far--keep it up! Every bit of exercise you do makes your heart stronger and your body healthier.
  • Re:Cruel (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stdarg ( 456557 ) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @09:14AM (#19995423)

    Not being a minority did stop women from being treated that way for millenium...

    Perhaps it is more accurate to say that fat people are th elast socialy acceptable peer group to abuse. The main reason for this is because it is perceived to be a lack of will power or moral fibre that got them that way in the first place.

    I am ALL FOR making fat people feel pressure for being fat. I am fat myself so you might wonder why I say this... when I was growing up in the 1980s, my elementary and middle schools participated in all of those fuzzy feel-good programs like "DARE To Keep Kids Off Drugs!", various sex-education programs, and of course the self-esteem building programs. I think the most damaging thing ever taught to me in school was that "It's OKAY to not conform to the ideals of beauty! Be happy with your own body!" We were given books filled with fat girls and boys and adults and told "There's nothing wrong with being fat! Don't make fun of them for who they ARE!" and all that.

    You know what? Being fat is not okay. It sucks. It ruins your youth (and I'm sure the rest of your life too). If you are fat, try to change. Don't accept it and feel good about your body. Lose that weight and THEN feel good. That stupid self-esteem program should have said "You can lose weight! You don't have to be trapped under 40 extra pounds of fat!" That's good self-esteem.

    Yes, some people have medical problems that cause them to be fat. You know what? I feel sorry for them, just like I feel sorry for people who have lost a limb. If there is no possibility for them to lose weight, then obviously you shouldn't make them feel bad about that. But I don't celebrate it. It's horrible to take that tiny exemption and apply it to all fat people, because you are helping to ruin the lives of people who do have a choice.
  • by sexybomber ( 740588 ) <boccilino@@@gmail...com> on Thursday July 26, 2007 @09:16AM (#19995459)
    You make a good point. I'll add to it:

    Bones are not pleasant to rub against. In fact, doing so can be rather painful; they are hard and sometimes pointy depending on the angle of impact. Ergo: stick-thin, model-type chicks, while (possibly) pleasing to the eye, are not good companions when actual physical contact is involved, because you will get poked. (I speak from experience.)

    There is a reason why humans have at least some body fat: cushioning!
  • by steveo777 ( 183629 ) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @09:22AM (#19995533) Homepage Journal
    I work for a health care system. Every year they offer health screenings for free (cholesterol checks, height/weight...). Well, after the last one I found out that I was 5'8" and clocked in at 200lbs even. Which put me just over obese on paper according to our BMI system. The problem is that I've recently had my lean body mas checked (with the electrodes, not mass-displacement) and found that I'm 10.8% body fat. Probably a bit more as that now, as the check was just before the winter...

    I was asked if I'd like a health coach. To help me with my eating or exercise habits. I hadn't found out that it was because of my high BMI until after I met with her (on company time). After explaining that I spend roughly 8 hours a week doing shaolin kung fu, and I bike a total of 14.2 miles to and from work almost every day, I was told that I am not getting enough caloric intake. Strange. But at the same time she was impressed that I looked absolutely nothing like her perception of a 5'8", 200lb man.

    I have a small pouch of a stomach and that's about it. And most people don't notice it unless I'm showing off. Which I do from time to time ("feel it kick"). My point is that the BMI can be very flawed. Perhaps America is only fat on paper, but a quick look around tells me otherwise. I scanned my office and see at least60% overweight or obese, and about a sixth of them morbidly so. Every one of these is guilty of being on weight watchers, eating "Lean Pockets", and a few Jenny Craig lunches throughout the day. Yet not losing weight, but increasing their already powerful gravitational field.

    America is fat because a lot of us get it all too easy, and if it's not easy, it's not American, apparently. "Just take 'Mataboslim' and sit on your fat ass and watch it melt away!", "Eat whatever you want! Our patented formula of goats.ex and monkey urine will melt those pounds off and prevent your body from holding on to any nutrition whatsoever!"

    A little background on me is that I was 240 in high school, and about 38% fat. I lost 70lbs in college when I stopped drinking Pepsi and all other carbonated sugar water. It took two months. My dad thought I was anorexic, but the opposite was the truth. I ate everything I could. And kept it down. It was the extra 1000-1500g of sugar I was no longer consuming.

  • Re:Cruel (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aprilsound ( 412645 ) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @09:30AM (#19995615) Homepage

    > However, I recently lost a substantial amount of weight
    > while consuming substantially more calories than before.
    > [...]
    > I'm guessing I now take in half again more calories, but
    > I weigh ten or twelve pounds less
    Then your expenditure of energy has increased by more than 50%, and you say this has been achieved without any additional exercise. It seems much more likely that you are or were not measuring your caloric intake correctly.
    Perhaps the point is that a change in diet, at the very least, produces a feeling of having more energy, which improves activity levels. If HFCS makes you feel lethargic, you're not going to exercise.
  • by The Fun Guy ( 21791 ) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @09:36AM (#19995691) Homepage Journal
    "Having fat friends makes you fat" implies that if you have fat friends, you have no choice but to become fat. This is untrue. Article is, once again, idiotic and pure flamebait.

    In a social peer environment where everybody else is either plump or really fat, being slim means getting teased at every social event, every family gathering, every "social networking" event.

    If you don't eat Grandma's signature dish of deep fried twinkies with buttercream frosting when everybody else is piling their plates high with them, Grandma's feelings get hurt. Ditto for the fried chicken, buttermilk pound cake, candied yams, etc., etc., etc.

    If you have to request (or bring your own) healthy food to every event because any vegetable that's there is slathered in cream of mushroom soup and cheddar cheese, you are labeled a snob.

    If you have to request (or bring your own) diet soda pop and/or light beer to every barbeque, you are derided as a wimpy, effeminate liberal.

    If you host a party for your friends and relatives where you serve the foods that you typically eat instead of the foods they typically eat - grilled, broiled or baked meats instead of fried, deep-fried or chicken-fried, fresh vegetables instead of salt, sugar and cream casseroles, relatively low-cal drinks instead of colored and carbonated high fructose corn syrup, good desserts instead of huge desserts - then your parties will be really low on anyone's list of favorite events, because the food is "weird".

    Doritos, sour cream and onion potato chips, bowls of candy or nuts and chocolate-covered strawberries are as tempting to slim people as they are to fat people. It's really easy to be fat. It takes effort to stay slim. By exerting that effort at these social events, by not accepting the food they offer to you, you are saying to your plump/fat/obese friends and relatives, "I don't want to be like you." Or at least, that is how they will interpret it.

    If you have a fat social network that does not exert pressure on you to also get fat, either overt or covert pressure, conscious or unconscious pressure, then you are very, very lucky.
  • by Valdrax ( 32670 ) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @01:57PM (#19999701)
    If you've ever been on a diet, you'll know that the single hardest part of dieting is going out to eat with friends. Friends who aren't dieting will often not respect that you don't want to go eat fast food or BBQ or Mexican or Waffle House or anywhere else where the healthy menu choices are limited to either limp iceberg lettuce salad or going hungry. Those that do, may often grow tired of you limiting the groups' choices on where to go to eat. They may simply start inviting you less or deciding on the location with others before inviting you.

    And, yes, these people are kind of jackasses for doing this, but what are you going to do? Cut yourself off from your friends or tell them that it's either the jerks or you? After all, from their point of view, it's you being selfish by telling everyone you won't go let them eat where they'd like to if they're going to be with you. Healthy restaurants are often much more expensive than fast food places and may not have food that your friends like if they're used to eating nothing but the grease and starch that is the staple of the modern American diet.

    Let's face it, eating together with people is one of the most common and universal means of socializing for mankind. The people you hang out with will have the same dietary habits you do because those are the places you are used to gathering and the food you are all used to eating. If your friends eat healthy food, you'll be forced to go the healthy places and probably won't gain as much weight. If your friends eat unhealthy food, you'll be forced to go to unhealthy places.

    The alternative is simply cutting yourself off from your friends, which only affirms the point of the research.
  • by qdaku ( 729578 ) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @02:24PM (#20000201)
    Depends on the food.

    If you take some minimal time and emmerse yourself in cookings, learn a bit on how to handle a knife, basic techniques, try out a lot of recipes, etc. You can be known in your circle of friends as someone who "knows how to cook" and "makes decent food", regardless of how much butter/sweet sweet bacon fat/etc goes into your food. It's about cooking *tasty* things, not necessarily fatty things. It's not actually that hard. Spend a few dollars extra on fresh, in-season vegetables, instead of canned. Invest in a few quality spices (or grow you're own on your windowsill for pennies), vinegars, oils, etc. Try a lot of recipes and experiment. Food blogs are an excellent source for this. Take a little time to cook real food, look back at some old things you hate --I hated those purple beets growing up, but they grow these absoletly phenomenal golden beets around my parts that are mild and sweet and taste great simply roasted in an oven --no oil/butter, no salt, no pepper.

    Hell learning how to make a few simple salad dressings that don't suck has vastly increased my vegetable in-take. Learning a few dynamite salads and playing with them as things come in and out of season has been great. It's gotten to the point where I actually get cravings for salad --something a country boy growing up in cattle country never thought would happen.

    Case-in-point, a recent food gathering I had (I cook the food, some friends bring the wine) I had a simple salad of fresh ingredients (good asparagus, green beans, simple home-made croutons, and some quick marinated cherry tomatoes in cinnamon, some good quality sherry vinegar, and a splash of olive oil) totally steal the show from my ultra-fat main course (a pan-fried(in oil) honey-mustard chicken schnitzel in a *butter*-caper sauce). I've never had someone turn down the healthy options that I cook as "nasty health-food" because there are ways to do it right.

    And since when do people turn down the lean option you presented? A good BBQ'd steak for my kingdom! who turns that down for some nasty chicken-fried steak --you hang out with some ****ed up people.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 26, 2007 @06:55PM (#20003861)
    Like people have not been doing that for the last sixty years. You can't tell me that all of the sudden 75% of the country is doing this and that is responsible for the fat epidemic that's happened since the 1980's. Something's changed and it's not football.

    Might it be a big dropoff in physical activity? Kids are lazier, go out less (due in part to paranoid parents) and don't get any sort of physical workout... and manual labor jobs that provide exercise in and of themselves are a smaller and smaller part of the economy.

    But I admit, that speaks to individual responsibility, and blaming large corporations is much easier and takes less mental effort.

    "Less effort"... hmmm....

"You must have an IQ of at least half a million." -- Popeye