The novel notion that friends make friends fat made news when researchers analyzing data from the Framingham Heart Study found evidence that "clusters of friends appeared to 'infect' each other with obesity, unhappiness and smoking." At the same time, the researchers found that good habits, such as quitting smoking, being trim and being happy passed "from friend to friend almost as if they were contagious viruses."
These groundbreaking observations were based on a long-term study established in 1948 by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of 15,000 Framingham residents and their descendants. Every four years, the participants undergo a rigorous physical examination, and key measures of their health (heart rate, weight, cholesterol and blood sugar levels and more) are recorded.
The concept that we are strongly influenced by the people around us was reinforced by researchers who reported in the journal Obesity that weight loss can be contagious. The article was based on a study of nearly 1,000 teams consisting of 5 to 11 members who took part in a 12-week Shape Up Rhode Island fitness campaign. Lead author Dr. Tricia Leahey, from the Miriam Hospital and Alpert Medical School, concluded that team members helped each other lose weight by "providing accountability, setting expectations of weight loss, and providing encouragement and support." The findings showed that "weight loss outcomes were clearly determined by which team an individual was on."
Having team support is essential, but so is learning how to eat and exercise to burn fat and trim down. In his new book, The Smarter Science of Slim, Jonathan Bailor outlines a scientifically proven eating and exercise strategy for achieving optimum long-term health and fitness. He also focuses our attention on a new form of smarter resistance training that can fundamentally repair our metabolism. Of the three forms of exercise (flexibility, which includes stretching and increase of motion; cardiovascular, which involves aerobic movement; and strengthening, which involves resistance training), the latter is the most effective in boosting the body's metabolism and hormonal health.
Bailor bases his conclusions on the single largest scientific analysis of long-term fat loss and health ever conducted. The information and analysis he has assembled and summarized on food and exercise helps lay people make sense of the emerging field of metabolic science. For individuals seeking to downsize, the insights are invaluable.
"The scientific community now knows a great deal about how the human body works," said Dr. JoAnn E. Manson, chief of the Division of Preventive Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. "In culling the literature and gathering the results of so many clinical studies, Jonathan Bailor presents a weight-loss program that is based on rigorous science."
Most encouragingly, Bailor states, "When you combine modern metabolic science with modern social technologies, you realize that there's never been a more promising time to burn fat and boost your health. Studies show that Support + Science = Success."
Photo credit: mikebaird on Flickr.