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Is fatness a contagious disease? Special To The Star-news | Sat, Aug 10 2013 12:00 PM

A New England Journal of Medicine study implies that people can actually catch obesity from close friends. Researchers followed 12,067 people over 32 years, they concluded that those of us with very close friends who are obese have a 171 percent higher chance of becoming obese too.

This would seem to imply that this condition passed from one person to another and then on to others in turn. It is very possible that if one were to chart out this trend that it would not look different from the way that contagious diseases spread through a society.

There is a better explanation though. As a living person in a group, you cannot help but to influence others and be influenced by them. In this case you may begin to eat fattening foods with friends and then pull even more people into your group, some of whom may begin to take a liking to the same foods. Some people have more influence than others on their friends. It is often difficult to see who may be the leader of a certain trend but very likely you have had both good and bad effects on your close friends.

Surprisingly, close friends of the same sex have more influence than husbands or wives when it comes to putting on the pounds. This may make more sense when you consider that you may like more of the same foods as your closest, same-sex friends and may even have food as part of the activity that you enjoy together.

There is good news here too though. You have influence over those who are closest to you and their waistlines.
Power accidentally used for bad can be harnessed for good and used to correct the error. If you think that you helped your best friend or friends into an unhealthy state then you can use that as motivation to get healthy again yourself. Doing so will have the reverse effect on your closest friends.

Even better is to team up and know that when you are losing weight you are helping them to do so also. Sometimes two close friends will start a diet together and one friend will falter. The other friend is often unwilling to leave the first behind and also breaks the diet.

But seen in the light of the above information it becomes obvious that the best thing to do for your best friend is to carry on and keep losing. This will have the effect of helping your friend catch health from you.
And if you are anything like the majority of my patients, that would mean the world to you.
For more information call Dr. Mace Richter at (619) 345-0027.

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