It’s widely known that genetics is a contributing factor in obesity. If your parents are overweight, there’s a greater chance that you will be, too. But what if simply being close to fat family members played an even larger part in determining your weight? That’s what a University of California, San Diego, study suggests.
Researchers say that obesity is “socially contagious,” meaning you could get fat just by being emotionally and socially tied-friends or family-to someone obese. The 32-year study of over 12,000 people found that, regardless of geographical distance, a person’s likelihood of becoming obese shoots up 37% if a spouse becomes obese, 40% if a sibling does, and 57% if a friend does. The risk almost triples if the friendship is especially intimate.
This is attributed to much more than simply hanging out with people who eat and exercise like you do. Instead, researchers believe that being close to someone obese can alter your perception of an acceptable weight. The theory also works in reverse, with people tending to lose weight if their friends and family do.
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