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Is Obesity Socially Contagious?

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posted on Jul, 26 2007 @ 08:27 PM
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U.S. researchers have released a study stating that obesity is as socially contagious as the newest trend or fad. Something that can consume friends, picking them off one at a time. This is nothing new, but the articles I've read have sparked some interest within myself. Disappointing more than anything, as it is another indication that the individual rarely has control over one's self.

We are a product of our environment, and from what I've seen, all aspects of society point to this.



U.S. researchers have found that obesity can spread through a network of friends, just like the common cold or a penchant for a new style of jeans.

The study, released today in the New England Journal of Medicine, is the first to show that obesity is socially contagious and can spread from person to person to person.

After analyzing the health data collected from more than 12,000 people over 32 years, the researchers found a person’s chance of becoming obese increased by 57 per cent if someone they considered a friend became obese. That risk increased to 171 per cent if it was a mutual friend.

www.thestar.com...





Having a circle of friends who are chubby just might make it more likely you will become overweight yourself. That's the interesting finding from a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The researchers found that if someone's friends become obese, that person's chances of becoming obese increased by 57 per cent. Siblings and spouses also have an influence, although a reduced one:

  • People whose siblings became obese were themselves 40 per cent more likely to grow obese;
  • People whose spouses became obese were 37 per cent more likely to be obese as well.

    www.ctv.ca... ews/story/CTVNews/20070725/obesity_contagious_070725/20070725?hub=TopStories



  • It is tough to refute everything that is being said here, but I am seriously interested in hearing some thoughts on this. Is this monkey see, monkey do? Or is this a case of overweight parents feeding their children the same unhealthy lives they've lived?

    Is obesity becoming a social problem? Is it already a social problem?

    My personal thoughts and feelings on the matter is that obesity is, and always has been, socially contagious. But in a day in age where we can not walk down the sidewalk without seeing someone who is vastly over weight, we are finally beginning to see the fruits of our unhealthy lifestyles.

    Obesity has become a serious problem, and I truly feel it is a social epidemic.




    posted on Jul, 26 2007 @ 10:02 PM
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    When social interaction takes place in front of the computer screen, or the video game console, instead of the playground or skateboard park, is it really all that surprising that a social circle might run to obese?

    Of course there is probably a little more to it than that...

    Absentee parents, availability of static entertainment (sitting in front of the TV or computer monitor). The fact that many parents think, perhaps rightly, that it simply isn't safe for the kids to be out and about like you and I were as kids, well me anyway, I'm a bit older than you, Chissler. During the summer when I was a kid, I was home to sleep and eat, the rest of the time I was outside being a kid, playing basketball, soccer, riding my bicycle, etc... Now paranoia rules in many households, and kids are encouraged, if only unconciously, to remain inside where its "safe", subsisting on McDonalds, and Warcraft. Is it any wonder kids today are getting a little on the heavy side?



    posted on Jul, 27 2007 @ 07:58 AM
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    I think it is already a social problem, and becoming a bigger and bigger problem, and I don't know how anyone or anything would be able to stop it as a whole.

    It starts off like seagull said above. And then those heavy children grow up, probably not doing anything to change their ways, have children which will probably also be overweight.


    If one parent is obese, there is a 50 percent chance that the children will also be obese. However, when both parents are obese, the children have an 80 percent chance of being obese.


    Article

    And that cycle can go on and on, and how do you stop it? There is already a bunch of articles and stories in the news about how certain foods are bad for your health, there is already many healthy foods to chose to eat. There are many gyms and exercise programs to go to. What else can you do if the overweight don't take advantage of those things?


    And as for it being "socially contagious"...

    If an averaged sized child had oversized friends they could become the same way for a couple of reasons.

    - They don't go out to play sports or whatever because they can't keep up, so they end up not getting any exercise.

    - Or instead of the one chubby kid getting picked on because he is the only overweight one of the bunch and no one wants to be like him, if they are mostly chubby they don't get picked on, so it doesn't matter to them anymore. So at young ages children don't see a problem in being heavy if most of their friends are heavy. Could that be?


    [edit on 27/7/2007 by enjoies05]



    posted on Jul, 27 2007 @ 09:18 AM
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    Obesity is definitely a rising problem and must agree with Seagull I believe that it stems from children getting too much of their social interaction from sitting in front of a game console, computer or TV. Parents have to work and in today's economy that usually means both parents so kids are home alone and rightly parents worry about kids safety so they don't want them out playing in the park unless they are sure that there is adult supervision.

    I was blessed in that while my daughter was young we lived in the country far enough out from town that she could be out. Like Seagull in the summer and on weekends she was rarely indoors; she however was riding her horse or fishing. I don't think kids want to be overweight I think that they just don't know any other way.

    Another issue is unhealthy eating habits. School lunches tend to be heavy on the carbs and low on the salad and fruits. Food machines tend to sell sweets and sodas just choke full of empty calories. That is changing but as those changes occur prices go up and there are many who simply can't afford to eat well. Go to the store and price check. Fruit and veggies are expensive and there is wide segment of our population who can't afford to eat right. If your income falls in between welfare and well off lots of times you can't afford the more healthy choices.



    posted on Jul, 27 2007 @ 09:21 AM
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    if it is, I'm in trouble because I was around a ton (well tons) of fat folks at Hershey Park last weekend. Now that I think about it, my pants are tighter this morning.

    If you're eating with an overweight person, I would imagine you tend to eat more. It's like anything else, you wind up doing more with people who do more.

    smokers light up when another one does.

    drinkers will order another drink and say "want one?" and you will, invariably, say "sure" even if you are halfway done.

    Why would food be any different?



    posted on Jul, 27 2007 @ 10:46 AM
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    I never thought about obesity this way... It's interesting for sure.

    On the other side of things, I was watching a special on Hong Kong the other day and I noticed the crowds in the street had a different "look" to them than a crowded New York street... At first I couldn't put my finger on it, but then I realized, there was NOT ONE fat person in the entire crowd! The camera was panning over literally hundreds (maybe thousands) of people walking on busy streets and I couldn't pick out ONE person who was even overweight! It was amazing!

    So perhaps this "obesity as a social issue" idea has some "weight".



    posted on Jul, 27 2007 @ 10:58 AM
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    I know most of you guys are in the US, but it's a problem all over the developed world, the UK is just full of fatties and it's not that much different in Hong Kong. The little Princes and Princesses stuffin their faces with macdonalds and candies, over here there is no - outside - really! The parents work 65 - 80 hours a week. There's not even that much in the way of a sports culture over here. Unlike in the US where sport is suppost to be huge business!

    Yeah it sure is! All those fatties need soda and hot dogs. That there is some good business!

    The whole world needs to start eating right and not just watching Jamie Oliver! Man when the showed the fatty mothers passing fish and chips through the school bars because their poor little prince's didn't like the salads and fish and healthy stuff!

    Scumbags the lot of them!

    Fat Parents have Fat Kids and Fat Kids become Fat adults!

    That's why I married a Chinese woman. They don't get fat or old.

    Monkey.

    Hold on that's the Japanese!! I've been had!!

    [edit on 27/7/07 by ChiKeyMonKey]



    posted on Jul, 27 2007 @ 11:02 AM
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    Originally posted by Benevolent Heretic
    I never thought about obesity this way... It's interesting for sure.

    On the other side of things, I was watching a special on Hong Kong the other day and I noticed the crowds in the street had a different "look" to them than a crowded New York street... At first I couldn't put my finger on it, but then I realized, there was NOT ONE fat person in the entire crowd! The camera was panning over literally hundreds (maybe thousands) of people walking on busy streets and I couldn't pick out ONE person who was even overweight! It was amazing!

    So perhaps this "obesity as a social issue" idea has some "weight".


    I'm guessing that program was shot on the island, where everyone is working 80 hours a week and living on starbucks!!

    Trust me their are plenty of fatties over here (I'll get pictures if you want).

    MonKey.



    posted on Jul, 27 2007 @ 11:16 AM
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    Perhaps it was on the island. I have no idea. But I don't know of anywhere in the US that we could look at a thousand random people and not have one overweight person.


    Originally posted by ChiKeyMonKey
    All those fatties need soda and hot dogs.
    ...
    Scumbags the lot of them!


    Must you? Suppose you could keep your prejudice out of this thread? That's just nasty.

    And no, I don't want pictures.



    posted on Jul, 27 2007 @ 09:44 PM
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    Personally, I'm not inclined to assign causality in the strictest sense of the word to this situation, but then I only read the news story.

    Could it be that we tend to adopt lifestyles similar to our friends.? We use the same jargon, eat the same foods, engage in the same activities or lack thereof.

    Could it be more monkey see, monkey do, than someone else's fat is making me fat?

    Would a fat member of a group of fat friends not lose weight if he cut back on his caloric intake and increased his physical activity?

    Would the change in diet and activity mean that that person would tend to hang around less with his corpulent, inactive friends and begin to make new friends down at the gym and at Souper Salad?

    Really, to me this seems to be a misuse of the term causality, but like I said, I haven't seen the data.

    It should also be remembered that a whole bunch of people these days are taking SSRI anti-depressants and that most of these are known to cause significant weight gain.

    Do depressed people tend to hang around with other depressed people?

    There are a lot of variables to consider here.


    [edit on 2007/7/27 by GradyPhilpott]



    posted on Jul, 28 2007 @ 03:29 AM
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    Well I can certainly understand why children with overweight parents become overweight because they look up to there parents as an example of what they should do whether or not the parents are setting an good example. Different social and economic reasons contribute to child obesity.

    Although plans the NZ government has approved prove that sometimes an cure can be worse disease. Banning or restricting junk food in school canteens restricts people freedom. Still the do gooders could come back to haunt the government election.



    posted on Jul, 28 2007 @ 11:27 AM
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    Originally posted by Benevolent Heretic
    Perhaps it was on the island. I have no idea. But I don't know of anywhere in the US that we could look at a thousand random people and not have one overweight person.


    Originally posted by ChiKeyMonKey
    All those fatties need soda and hot dogs.
    ...
    Scumbags the lot of them!


    Must you? Suppose you could keep your prejudice out of this thread? That's just nasty.

    And no, I don't want pictures.


    Do you know the amount of money these fast food companies make each year. And what is it they are selling - a short cut to heart problems a diabeaties. And there is also evidence to show that fast food can become addictive in no different a way to nicotine, alcohol, caffine and other illegal drugs - so those fatties really do NEED their soda and hot dogs.

    Am I really prejudice for saying a fatty is a fatty? What would you prefer!!

    Hand to mouth challenged.

    Black people are black. Gay people are gay, Fat people are fat.

    Sure have an opinion, just don't voice it or have anything other than the pre-voiced correct opinion.

    And as for the mothers pushing "fish and chips" through the school bars at lunch times because. My son don't wanna eat that salad rubbish! Or words to that effect.

    SCUMBAGS the lot of them. that's my opinion!

    Hong Kong is not that different to the US, but the place is a good few years behind in it's fast food dependency, and although no one would ever really say this because they might be being prejudice towards global corporations, but it is my opinion that companies on the Island where wages are higher (generally) will not employ fatties, ugly is not the new beautiful. Betty can sod right off! In time it will probally become an issue, but right now in China putting a height and weight limit on job applications is considered perfectly normal.

    No comment on wether it is right or wrong. That's just the way it is.

    People should always have freedom of choice, but some people need a slap up the side of the head and a booster shot of common sense.

    Africans die because they have no food.
    Americans and many Europeans die because they eat too much.

    MonKey.



    posted on Jul, 28 2007 @ 12:33 PM
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    Disappointing more than anything, as it is another indication that the individual rarely has control over one's self.


    Chissler, I'm gonna hafta disagree with ya here. Unless these people are physically incapable of taking care of themselves, each individual MUST learn/have control over one's self.

    The entire problem starts with the lack of self-control, and the problem will end when people embrace the fact that they DO have a huge measure of control over themselves (all other things equal).

    I smoke. And yes, when another smoker lights up, I tend to join in. But society (or any external authority figure) telling me that I cannot smoke or (goodness forbid) snatching away my cigarettes is not going to make me quit.

    NO ONE other than myself can make me quit.

    Sure, tie my hands behind my back -- and yes, physically, I'm not allowed to smoke. But that doesn't make the mental habit disappear, nor is the act of forbidding/disallowing doing anything towards helping the me why this or that action is incorrect. It is simply telling me that I can't do it under threat of punishment... and my inner rebel no like being ordered around.


    Until I'm physically incapable, *I* am the one picking up the fork. Not society.

    It ALL comes down to self-control.

    Yes, all the media and social stigmas and whatnot are still ingrained. I see myself as fat thanks to growing up staring at air-brushed toxin-injected saline-inflated models. Truly, a gift from society... meant sarcastically, but also seriously. Society gave me that self-image distortion. And now the challenge lies on my shoulders to figure out for myself how to best live with it. And all I can do is offer advice to others... and let them work it out for themselves.


    We're sooo used to quick-fix solutions that we've completely forgotten self-discipline.

    Instead of putting the fork down and exercising and eating nutritious foods in moderation... we run to the plastic surgeon to have our insides vacuumed (fat cells like errant dust bunnies) and our stomachs stapled. In doing this, we have un-done the physical appearance of obesity, but have not solved the individual's problem that caused it in the first place.


    No, we're not entirely in control of everything that happens in our lives. But, I control what I do, what I say, how I act... and so it's reasonable to say that every single person (all other things equal) controls what they do, say, and how they act. If they want to follow a trend -- let them hop on the bandwagon. It's their choice. But it's unfair, if not incomplete, to blame the whole of society for the individual's choice...



    posted on Jul, 30 2007 @ 09:51 AM
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    news.bbc.co.uk...

    On the bbc today!

    Obesity 'triggers' disease fears.

    interesting read!

    MonKey



    posted on Jul, 30 2007 @ 10:25 AM
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    Interesting story, Chikey. Thanks.

    I was especially pleased to see the prejudice against obesity related to racism, which is another subject on the board. If you haven't listened to Chissler's PODcast, I recommend it.

    www.abovetopsecret.com...



    He said: "Human beings have been given powers of reason, so people can overcome the discrimination.

    "Attitudes to coloured people have become healthier, even though once they were looked down upon.

    "Obese people are currently blamed for their condition, but people should try to overcome that attitude."



    posted on Aug, 14 2007 @ 06:30 AM
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    In my opinion being a fatty is NOT socially contagious, atleast at young ages. The reason? Fat people always get given crap and are nearly always teased.

    When I was 11, a number of years ago (15 now), I was not obese, but DEFINATELY overweight, I got a big pot as a stomach. Thank got it's four years on and I am actually pretty fit now. Would I want to go back to how I was? HELL NO. Even if my friends were fat I'd hate to be fat. The funny part is, is that all I do is sit on my ass all day yet somehow I keep getting fitter and stronger.

    The only reason it may seem as it is socially containgious, is if older people are friends and one is fat... then the other might follow the fatties lead and then become fat by following there life syle. Younger ages? No. And people do not WANT to become fat (except for Cartman / Homer). EVER.

    [edit on 14-8-2007 by C0bzz]





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