Feature

Obesity

Is overeating contagious?

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, said Gina Kolata in The New York Times, though if one of them starts gaining weight, watch out. A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that 'œobesity can spread from person to person, much like a virus.' If one of your friends starts packing on the pounds, there is a 57 percent chance that you'll soon follow suit, and if it's a close friend, make that 171 percent. The mechanism at work, it's thought, is 'œsocial contagion.' As your friend gets heavier, you revise upward your idea of what constitutes normal weight. Your growing potbelly or love handles hardly seem worth worrying about if your friends are 40 or 50 pounds overweight. None of this invalidates the old advice: Diet and exercise are still the keys to staying thin. But not 'œhaving fat friends' seems like it might help as well.

'œWay to go, science,' said Rex Huppke in the Chicago Tribune. Just when that 'œchubby, ostracized kid in grade school' thought things couldn't get any worse, all of a sudden his tormentors get to cite a clinical sounding reason for why he can—indeed must—be shunned. As a person who's 'œbeen overweight my entire life,' I find this study hard to swallow, said Gail Collins in The New York Times. Unless I'm forgetting someone, not one of my many friends has yet 'œcontracted' obesity as a result of spending time with me. But perhaps I'm forgetting someone who's been magically fattened by my poor example. If so, I apologize. 'œI'd have dropped you ages ago if only I'd known.'

William Saletan

Slate.com

Betsy Hart

The Washington Times

Recommended

The Week contest: Booze rescue
Cans.
Feature

The Week contest: Booze rescue

Great Britain has its 1st Catholic prime minister. Surprise!
Boris Johnson, Carrie Symonds
Things that make you go hmmmmm...

Great Britain has its 1st Catholic prime minister. Surprise!

Biden suspends Trump's 25 percent tariff on Scotch whisky
Scotch
Slàinte mhath

Biden suspends Trump's 25 percent tariff on Scotch whisky

Almost all operations shut down as COVID-19 outbreak hits U.S. Embassy in Kabul
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul.
coronavirus crisis

Almost all operations shut down as COVID-19 outbreak hits U.S. Embassy in Kabul

Most Popular

RNC slams Biden for meeting with Putin
Vladimir Putin
Geneva summit

RNC slams Biden for meeting with Putin

7 toons about the Dems' Joe Manchin problem
Political Cartoon.
Feature

7 toons about the Dems' Joe Manchin problem

Bernie Sanders wants to know if cannabis reporter is 'stoned' right now
Bernie Sanders.
Sounds dope

Bernie Sanders wants to know if cannabis reporter is 'stoned' right now