Are Your Friends Making You Fat?

In college, I remember that every time I got a new roommate my weight either went up or down. If the new roommate was a runner and ate healthy foods, I naturally began picking up her habits. The flipside was also true. If my new roommate ordered pizza at midnight and always had candy in the apartment, I ate it too.

Some recent studies have shown that our friends have a huge influence on our health. In fact, our friends have a bigger impact on our health than our spouses. Here’s why: If our friends are overweight, it can increase our risk of weight gain by 57%. If our spouse is overweight, it can increase our risk of weight gain by 37%. Why? Friends of the same gender influence our health more than those of the opposite gender. In other words, we are more likely to compare our body image to that of someone of the same sex.

The bad news? If your best friend is overweight, you are more likely to gain weight. The good news? If your best friend decides to become a vegetarian and run a half marathon, you probably will too.

If you sit next to someone who is a big eater, you will have a tendency to eat more. So if your husband has a tendency to eat like someone who just got voted off of Survivor, maybe sit next to someone in your family with a smaller appetite.

Keep in mind that all health and lifestyle habits can rub off on you. If your friend takes up smoking you will be 36 percent more likely to smoke. Same goes for drinking alcohol or being unhappy. This might be a good time to also evaluate who your kids are spending time with as well. Happy and healthy people have a strong influence on your health. While I’m not suggesting that you get rid of a friend because he or she is unhappy or overweight, but you may want to consider exploring relationships with people who pursue a healthy lifestyle. I heard a great line once in regards to others’ influence on our behavior; “People are like elevators, they either bring you up or down”.

Click here to watch me on King 5 “Are Your Friends Making You Fat?”

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