Are The People You Hang With Making You Fat?
So today I read another new study – this time suggesting that people who are at a normal / healthy weight who come into contact with people who are obese have a greater risk of putting on weight themselves…
The findings were presented by Alison Hill, a Harvard grad student who states – and I quote – “obese people have the potential to create a ripple effect amongst their non obese peers”, she also continues to compare the rate of obesity spreading through social networks to infectious diseases like the flu… Scary stuff – but is it really true?
I think there’s a grain of truth in this study but I also feel Hill is ignoring a few other key factors along the way. Alison cites the supposed ‘fact’ that the rate of obesity has slowed, and I’m not sure I agree. Technology, fast food, and lack of activity continue to move forward and progress at light speed, and all you have to do is look in any clothing store and the expanding size ranges to realize more Americans then ever are overweight. I also don’t care for the comparison of overweight people and contagious diseases – it’s pretty tactless. Poor eating habits, and lack of activity aren’t communicable sicknesses.
Becoming obese takes time, and many factors contribute to the eventual outcome of being overweight. You don’t simply shake an obese person’s hand and wake up overweight the next day – and you don’t automatically get fat by hanging out with overweight people. You could also argue the reverse is true – obese people have a better chance at losing weight if they’re surrounded by more normal weight friends. I don’t see too many people asking their overweight friends for advice on how to become overweight, but I know overweight people surely look to friends for advice on how to diet and exercise.
Obesity can run in families, or be higher in demographic areas, but this is due to how one lives a particular lifestyle for a great many years. Bad eating habits, poor choices, and lack of activity tend to be passed down from one generation to the next, leading people to think they have “fat genes” or a propensity to be obese. Recent evidence suggests that less than 2% of the population actually have a condition that makes them store body fat regardless of diet and exercise. Certain areas of the world are known for fried food, fat laden diets, or excessive fast food (hello America!) and those are cultural contributing factors to entire societies potentially being obese.
The study also goes on to suggest that obesity will peak at 42% of the population. Honestly I think that if the trends continue, we will see an even higher rate of obesity in the next 40 years. In fact I remember reading a couple of years ago it was speculated that in 100 years time almost 100% of the population would be obese! Now that’s scary!
The fact is we all have choices to make regarding our health and fitness. And I feel like we pass the buck, have excuses or blame other factors when we are in fact to blame. The simple truth is if you want to maintain a healthy body weight you must eat nutritious, calorically appropriate food and exercise on a regular basis. It’s really that’s simple – and I don’t need a study to tell me that…