Obesity Is a Socially Transmitted Disease

Fat friends increase chances of getting fat
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 25, 2007 6:19 PM CDT
   (Getty Images)
camera-icon View 4 more images

(Newser) – Obesity spreads socially, a new study concludes: one’s likelihood of getting fat increases 57% if a friend becomes fat, and a whopping 171% if it's a close friend. Friends may be more influential than genes in weight gain, the Chicago Tribune reports. “Its about the spread of norms,” said a researcher.

One’s chances are also increased 40% if a sibling becomes obese and 37% if a spouse becomes obese. It's not just about proximity: The study concluded that fatness in neighbors who aren't friends had no effect. And it isn't that fat people are drawn to each other: the study excluded friends who were both overweight when it started.