Carmel Health

Monday, November 22, 2010

Is Obesity Contagious?

As you know, I read as much as I can in magazines and on the internet trying to keep up with the world of Health. Remember, you are still encouraged to do the same and I thank those students who do occasionally bring in articles for me to read.
Recently I have been reading a number of stories based on some research that would suggest that obesity is contagious. Well of course that sort of dramatic headline has been created to get interest in this story but there is some truth behind the headline.
Harvard's Program for Evolutionary Dynamics has produced some research that shows that obese people have the potential to create a ripple effect among their non-obese peers. The more non-obese people an obese person comes into contact with, the greater the chance that those people will become obese. Alison Hill, a study reseracher on the project said that "Although obesity can't actually spread like an infectious disease, contact with other obese people does influence the likelihood of becoming obese yourself".
Researchers have found that if a friend became obese over the course of the study, the chances that the participant also became obese increased by 57%. Among mutual friends (both individuals indicate the other is a 'friend'), the chances tripled.
Among siblings, if one becomes obese the liklihood of their sister or brother becoming obese increases by 40%. Among spouses there is a 37% increased risk.
You might think that maybe friends eat the same foods together and that this might affect their weight, however, the results were still the same no matter the geographic proximity of friends.
With some research suggesting that America's obesity rate won't plateau until 42% of adults are obese, this recent research should get people talking more about this subject.

1 comment:

  1. Obese is very important to stay away from by eating healthier foods and excersising more. We have many obese people in the american community and were not taking action to helping these people. For example unhealthy food commercials, playing videogames, and watching television all factor to becoming obese. I think we should have less advertisements on unhealthy foods and more active healthy commercials that will keep you in shape and not overweight.