Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Friend Effect

Is it possible that our friends can effect our health? In most cases our friends are the people in our lives that make us happy and our support system so could it be true that they could also be bad for us? In a story found on CNN written by Amanda Chan, MyHealthNewsDaily Staff Writer she describes what is referred to as the "friend effect" and I will share it with all of you.

There was a study done and while it showed that obesity rates have slowed down, but will continue to increase, just at a lower rate. The prediction is that 42 percent of Americans will be obese (currently it is 34 percent) how long it will be until these are the statistics is inconclusive in this particular study. However besides being completely uninformative there the study did find some other things.

The study showed that people can create a ripple effect among their peers who are not obese, according to Alison L. Hill, a graduate student at Harvard's Program for Evolutionary Dynamics. This is because the more that a non-obese person comes into contact with someone that is considered obese, the greater a chance of them becoming that way  too. The researchers data found that obesity rate is affected by three factors:
1.) person-to-person contact through social networks
2.) personal factors like diet and exercise
3.) the rate at which obese people lose weight

Even though it is impossible to say that obesity can infect people like a contagious disease, the research found that being in contact with other people who are obese does increase the likelihood of becoming that way yourself.

"After analyzing 40 years of data from 7,500 people in the Framingham Heart Study, researchers found the average person has a two percent chance of becoming obese in any given year...That chance increases by 0.5 percent for every obese family member, friend or coworker a person has regular contact with," said Hill.

It may be because we mimic the behavior or adopt similar lifestyles as those we hang out with. Hill also suggests that we may simply change what we think is a normal or acceptable weight for ourselves based on the weight we see on the people that are around us. Hill also assumes that social influence is an obvious factor.

Am I saying that you should stop being friends with someone because they are over weight, no not at all. However based on this study it is fair to say that we are who we hang with and if we want to influence the people in our lives to be healthy (not necessarily ripped with a six pack), but just more healthy then maybe it is our job as a friend or family member to try to get the other person to do something healthy with us. 

I know for example my senior year of college I was working out with a friend of mine in the mornings (she was getting ready to get married and I was getting ready to go to Spring Break in Panama City Beach). My butt was in that gym every morning being hardcore. It was because I didn't want to let my friend down. This is what we call an accountability buddy! No I know that this  post had absolutely nothing to do with the series FRIENDS, but I love the show and since it was about our friends and the other people in our lives I thought I would add some spice to the post today. It was also a scam to try to get you all to read it :)

Be happy and healthy and I'll update you all tomorrow! Some exciting Cassandra news however. I have lost 10 pounds to date since starting this project. It may not sound like a lot, but it was nice to see on the scale. For those of you doing the same thing trust me it is a wonderful feeling and good luck to you all. 


  1. "Whale" done! (lol. I hope you get that)

    10 lbs is an amazing achievement! Even if it's just 1 lb that is 1 lb. that isn't on you anymore!

  2. Lol! I got it :)

    Thank you! I agree. It sounds like a little, but in actuallity if I keep on this track that's going to be a whole lot more pounds gone which means I'm on the right track :)

  3. I learned the best thing one time to make yourself feel better about loosing even small amounts of weight. Go to the grocery store and pick up 5lb bags of sugar (as many bags to equal how much you've lost) and carry them around the store. And then think, thats how much weight you are no longer carry on you. I've done this many times. Its awesome.

    And on friends effecting your weight: I firmly believe Josh makes me fat. lol Because he can eat all this crap I can't eat and he still stays skinny. So we go out to eat together and he orders fried chicken and french fries then I am stuck over there with my un-buttered veggies.

  4. LOL. That's a really great point you made about the carrying bags of sugar thing. I guess that really would put things into perspective huh! I may have to go to Wally world now...haha!

    And trust me I get the thing about Josh. I've dated skinny little guys that have made me feel the same way lol. Heck I even get annoyed with my brother Josh who is teeny tiny and eats horribly. Must be nice lol! I don't get it, we have the same genetics :(