Your Friends Can Make You Fat

Friends_Fat Loss

Talk about friends with benefits: If you're trying to lose weight, you'll be more motivated if you surround yourself with friends who are also trying to shed pounds, a new study in the journal Obesityfinds.

In the study, 288 young adults completed a survey about their weight and the weight of people in their social network (romantic partners, friends, colleagues, and relatives). Overweight people were more likely to have overweight romantic partners—25 per cent vs. 14 per cent—and overweight best friends—24 per cent vs.14 per cent) compared to normal-weight people.

If that sounds familiar, it's because a comprehensive 2007 study found similar results. In that study,  a person's chances of becoming obese increased by 57 per cent if a friend became obese; by 40 per cent if a sibling became obese; and by 37 per cent if a spouse became obese.

The new research focused on young adults because they're more influenced by social pressure, explains author Tricia M. Leahey, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the Miriam Hospital's Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center and Brown Medical School in Providence, Rhode Island.

"If your friends expect that you will eat healthy and exercise, this social pressure will likely lead you to eat healthy foods and engage in physical activity," she says. "And sure enough, we found that having more people in your social network trying to lose weight was associated with increased motivation for weight loss."

The advice is clear: If you're trying to lose weight, surround yourself with like-minded people who have an expectation of healthy eating and regular exercise.

This article originally appeared on Men's Health US.

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