Could Fat Be Infectious?

How your friends behave in the eating “arena” has more of an impact on you than family, genes, or prior disposition or habits. In fact, even friends you don’t see often, if they are still “close” to you emotionally can impact your own weight.

We like to think we make our own choices, don’t we? Whether it comes to picking out a pair of shoes, or what goes into our mouths. Yet, in a nutshell, the study–which is credited with accuracy for being carefully controlled and spans many years–shows that if your best friend puts on lots of weight over the years, you are more likely to do the same yourself than if she stays slim.

The study’s author, a Harvard professor, points out that in a sense, we’ve known this all along. “Who you tend to hang out with, weight-wise, is more important than who your next-door-neighbor is.” Likewise, “When overweight or obesity becomes normal in a given social circle, people may be more likely to become obese themselves.”

The good news? (There is good news!) It works both ways. The healthier the people you hang with, the healthier you are likely to try and be yourself. These findings are true for Jeanine and all the ladies in the Swimsuit Club (my newest fiction work-in-progress) Being a member of the Club helps Jeanine stay motivated to swim, and eventually, to take much better care of herself. (You’ll have to tune in to the blog for more about Jeanine and her weight problem, or watch for more articles from me.)

The blog is where my characters come to life, telling their secret thoughts–before the book is out! Issues on their minds are such things as self-image, eating disorders, fashion and how what you wear creates a statement about you; Christian living in a sex-saturated society, and whether purity is a tenable option for today. For people like Jeanine, we shall see how even overweight women have lots of power in deciding how they want the world to see them–whether they lose weight or not.

(Quotes from Amanda Gardner, as seen in DivineEloquence Magazine, Aug/Sept’07)

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