Good news, fatsos: you may now be able to blame your flab on your friends.
According to a recent study by researchers at Arizona State University, obesity is socially contagious.
For the study, published May 5, in the American Journal of Public Health, researchers interviewed 101 women from the Phoenix area and 812 of their closest friends and family members. By comparing the body mass index of the women, their friends, and family members, the researchers "confirmed prior findings that the risk of a woman's obesity rose if her social network was obese."
"When you see that something like obesity spreads among close friends and family members, this raises important questions about how it's spreading," the study's lead author, Daniel J. Hruschka says. "Is it because we learn ideas about acceptable body size from our friends and family members, or that we hike together, watch TV together, or go out to eat together?"
In other words, researchers want to determine whether fatsos become fatsos because they hang out with other fatsos and do fatso stuff like eat, or if a fatso's idea of acceptable body size is impacted by the size of the people around them, which could effect their eating and exercise habits.
"If we can figure out exactly why obesity spreads among friends and family members, that can tell us where to focus resources in curbing rates of obesity," Hruschka concludes. "Is it more effective to change people's ideals of acceptable body size in hopes that they will change their behaviors or rather directly target socially shared behaviors that can contribute to weight gain or loss?"
So, fatsos, if you want to shed some pounds, you may want to consider finding some skinnier friends to shame you out of your obesity.