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 canindeed mustbe 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.'
The Washington Times