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Do Friends Make You Fat?

jogging on beach

A study reported in the New York Times found that our friends can make us fat, even when the friendship is a long-distance one. Other studies have since confirmed this observation.

But wait! If I'm overweight, am I making my friend fat? Or is my overweight friend making me fat?

I can't answer that question, but I can tell you that the research is right! Here's what I mean.

My niece lost 80 pounds shortly after the birth of her second child. She also had a 4 year-old and a full-time job. When I learned that she had become trim and fit, I realized I could do it as well.

Once I made changes in my lifestyle and lost 62 pounds, my family and friends started making changes as well. I don't take credit for their decision or their resulting weight losses. I just marvel at the chain of events.

The most accurate statement I can make is, perhaps my example became a catalyst for family and friends to examine and change their lifestyle, just as my niece's example was for me.

When you think about it, this research isn't so startling. We humans are, after all, social creatures. When my friend yawns, I yawn. When the grocery clerk smiles, I smile back.

One thing the research makes clear, though, is that we're all in this together.

But the implications of the research are far-reaching. Each of us needs to understand the impact we have on each other, whether we are a parent, friend, grandparent, son, or daughter.

Each of us has a unique opportunity to be a role model. We have a choice. We can be negative role models or positive examples. We must make our choices knowing that our decisions help shape not only our own bodies but those of our family and friends.

Photo credit: Adam Kurzok via stock.xchng

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