Is Weight Loss Contagious?

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Is Weight Loss Contagious? featured image

The next time you and your friends talk about losing weight together, you might suggest “making it interesting” by dividing into teams for a weight-loss challenge. New research shows that team-based competition significantly helps people drop excess weight.

Researchers at The Miriam Hospital’s Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center and The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University studied the results of the 2009 Shape Up Rhode Island online weight-loss competition. During the statewide, 12-week challenge, 3,300 overweight or obese participants competed in weight loss, pedometer steps and/or physical activity.

Those who lost the most weight (5 percent of their body weight) were typically on the same teams. More significantly, those who said their teammates were the most socially influential during the competition were 20 percent more likely to meet their weight-loss goals.

“Being surrounded by others with similar health goals all working to achieve the same thing may have really helped people with their weight loss efforts,” said the study’s lead author Tricia Leahey, Ph.D., of The Miriam Hospital and Alpert Medical School. The results of the study appear in the journal Obesity.

The researchers suspect that accountability, weight-loss expectations, and encouragement and support were the keys to the teams’ successes. Plus, team captains lost the most weight. So if you’re considering joining a weight-loss team, why not step up and take the lead! You can find many online weight-loss teams at sites like SheKnows.com, WeightLossWars.com and WeightLossBuddy.com.

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