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Study Proves Having Fat Friends Makes You Fat

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the my-shadow-weighs-forty-two-pounds dept.

Science 693

Xemu writes "Having fat friends makes you fat, researchers from Harvard Medical School and the University of California says after after examining 12,067 individuals and 38,611 of their relatives and friends. In same-sex friendships, people were 71 per cent more likely to put on weight if a friend of theirs became obese. "It's not that obese or non-obese people simply find other similar people to hang out with. Rather, there is a direct, causal relationship," says Harvard professor Nicholas Christakis."

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Fat friends with benefits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19990231)

...doesn't make you fat, does it?

Re:Fat friends with benefits (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19990323)

Would you even want those benefits?

Re:Fat friends with benefits (5, Insightful)

Tangerinux (1133055) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990429)

it's better than nothing :'(

Insightful Breaking news!!! (1, Insightful)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990493)

If you are hanging around with gay people you probably are gay.

Re:Insightful Breaking news!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19990749)

So where did the term Fag Hag originate?

No, nor does having fat friends (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19990381)

"Having fat friends makes you fat" implies that if you have fat friends, you have no choice but to become fat. This is untrue. Article is, once again, idiotic and pure flamebait.

Way to go, samzenpus. Slashdot, sigh.

-mod parent up- (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19990537)

Mod up

Re:Fat friends with benefits (1)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990451)

well, I guess, since you are what you eat.

Your friend called (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19990233)

he says 'moo'.

Cruel (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19990369)

Fat people are the last minority that you can get away discriminating against in our society and it is sickening. Cut it out, skinny.

Re:Cruel (1)

Feminist-Mom (816033) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990427)

You're making a joke out of a sad thing.

Re:Cruel (3, Insightful)

notasheep (220779) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990475)

Sorry, but if you take a look around you (at least in the US) fat people are definitely the majority.

Re:Cruel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19990619)

But what do you consider fat? Technically I'm obese according to the BMI chart but I think I'm average with a bit of a gut popping out.. If I push out my stomach really hard I can make myself look pregnant but on average I suck it in a bit so I look pretty normal...same build as John Travolta in Pulp Fiction. I just don't think everybody is meant to be rail thin skinny.

Kinda notasheep's point (1)

benhocking (724439) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990667)

Obese is average in America (and many other places). I didn't know how much weight I really need to lose until I lost about 40-50 pounds. If you'd asked me before I lost that weight, I would've told you that I probably only needed to lose 10 pounds or so, and used some stock large frame excuse. I'm not "rail thin skinny" now, either. I lifted weights while losing weight and so didn't lose any muscle.

Re:Cruel (1)

binarybum (468664) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990495)

Interesting - In my country fat people are not a minority.

I know what I have to do. (1, Funny)

elgee (308600) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990237)

** heads to Walmart to buy ammo **

and a large shovel.

Old news (5, Funny)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990243)

This has been well known since the 80s [youtube.com]

Re:Old news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19990271)

Surely you meant to link to this [youtube.com] .

Re:Old news (0, Redundant)

buswolley (591500) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990359)

Science does not prove things. Science rejected a null hypothesis, and accepted a alternative hypothesis with a certain statistical margin of error.

Since the 80's, Big Food Has Been Killing YOU. (0)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990411)

Of all the half baked research out there, this has got to be the lamest excuse for the fat epidemic ever. It's hard to find people who are not fat in a country that is well on track to a population that's 75% obese. If what the friendship connection is true, then a single fat person would inevitably make the whole country fat. There's has been a real change in the US population since the 80's. It's not genetic, it's not that people are suddenly lazy, and it's not because obesity is somehow more catching now than it was thirty years ago - it's the poison big food is selling you, and the 60 hour work weeks being extracted by every other big employer. The most disgusting example of this is childhood obesity caused by "school meals". This is one of the biggest reasons US life spans are comparable to Cuba's.

You fail it (5, Insightful)

dedazo (737510) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990713)

The implication is that obesity in this context is caused by the social and cultural environment you function in and the peer pressure exerted by the types of people you frequent within that environment. If all your friends eat greasy burgers and pizza and have beer and then plop down to watch the game, you are likely to do the same to fit in. You also change your expectation of what health and looks are based on the people who are around you most of the time. Grok?

It's truly dumb to make it sound like you're outraged because the study says your fat friends will make you fat if they touch you.

Re:Old news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19990715)

This has been well known since the 80s [youtube.com]
And how does this translate into the language of 28.8 Kbps dial-up (aka text)? I would like to know what the joke is but I don't have the hour to wait for a flash video to download.

BUT I'M STARVING! (4, Insightful)

yotto (590067) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990245)

You want to go out to eat *again*!? Well, sure, I'll come along. I'm not hungry though. Maybe I'll just have some mozzarella sticks.

Re:BUT I'M STARVING! (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990269)

Get yer own mozzarella sticks. These two plates are for me.

Re:BUT I'M STARVING! (3, Informative)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990467)

I saw a show on discover/tlc/whatever the other day, about some severly overweight people. One guy ate 33000 Calories a day (actually, 33,000,000 calories, or 33,000 kilocalories if you want to be scientific). I thought about it, and that guy eats more in a day then I do in a week. Significantly more. They showed one of his meals, and it covered like an entire bed. Just the sausage course was like 6 sausages. there must have been at least 10 other plates there. All covered with greasy or sugar food. It was truly disgusting, and you wonder what the people bringing him the food (because he could no longer walk) were thinking.

Re:BUT I'M STARVING! (1)

rob1980 (941751) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990545)

Same here, and I'm not exactly Mr. Perfect as it is. What's worse is when they do it to a kid - you know, the stories where the parents are feeding him three burgers, a bag of chips, 2 large chocolate shakes, and half a carrot cake, all in one sitting. What the fuck.

Re:BUT I'M STARVING! (1)

dc29A (636871) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990557)

What I am wondering about these cases is how the hell the family can afford to pay for all this food. I saw the same show last night, and they mentioned that the cost of one day worth of food is around 300$. 300 smackers, Jeebus, how are people getting money for all this food?

Re:BUT I'M STARVING! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19990705)

Food stamps?

Re:BUT I'M STARVING! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19990765)

Probably dealing pot. If only they weren't getting high of their own supply, then they wouldn't be so hungry!

Re:BUT I'M STARVING! (1)

KingoftheAges (965041) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990753)

You have to somewhat admire the guy though. Despite the cultural and peer pressure he chooses to continue do what he loves, eat. Would you choose to live 40 years doing what you love every day or 80 years hating your life?

Re:BUT I'M STARVING! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19990591)

You want to go out to eat *again*!?
Yes.

Re:BUT I'M STARVING! (1)

Leibel (768832) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990665)

Except that this article [theage.com.au] says that they have included friends that are separated by distance.

found that even having a fat friend hundreds of kilometres away can affect a person's weight.

Dumb posts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19990257)

In other news, reading dumb posts on slashdot makes you dumber.

I'm still waiting for my article to be published.

Re:Dumb posts (1)

taoman1 (1050536) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990395)

Yes, at least tag this slownewsday.

Lunch, eh? (2, Funny)

DaveM753 (844913) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990273)

Tomorrow I'm having lunch with my best buddy, Steve Ballmer. Should I be worried?

Re:Lunch, eh? (4, Funny)

karnal (22275) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990439)

Will there be chairs around?

I think... (4, Funny)

ziggyboy (232080) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990289)

CowboyNeal must be fat.

come on! (0, Troll)

__NR_kill (1018116) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990291)

just another excuse for the many fat people eating daily at fast food restaurants

I'll tell you why this is, via anecdotes (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19990297)

There are a bunch of fatties where I work. They are always bringing boxes of donuts, organizing birthday cakes for people (oh christ we have more birthday cakes in 3 months than we have employees), always trying to get you to go out to lunch with them. You know why they do it? To try to justify their need to eat like shit. They figure if everyone else is doing it, then it's ok. Same with your fatty friends. They always have loads of snack food around, eat junk food, etc. Trying to get you to eat at McDonalds, etc.

If you are healthy and fit and hang around fatties, don't fall for their fatty ways. Beware, alert, and you will not become one of them.

Re:I'll tell you why this is, via anecdotes (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19990377)

You are so right. My brothers old girlfriend was on the 'large and lovely' side of the tracks, so was he actually. Anyways, it was more than once I heard one of her fat friends tell another that they didn't eat enough, nor were they fat enough. All the girls they knew were fat. Like it was some badge of honor. I realize that there may be some other problems at work here, physical as well as psychological, but the encouragement from one to the next was mind bending. I could never figure out why it was a good thing to have a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and plenty of other health problems.

Re:I'll tell you why this is, via anecdotes (5, Insightful)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990383)

Eating is the new terrorist

When they took away my drugs I did not speak up.
When they took away my nicotine I did not speak up.
When they took away my food...

Could it be .... (1)

andy666 (666062) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990409)

That fat people are cylons ? Prepare to jump to the next Ballys!!!

How dare you! (4, Insightful)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990483)

I'm going to protest against your discrimination! It's not that I'm the main cause of my obesity, it's everyone else's fault! I should sue them for trying to make me eat more!</sarcasm>

Re:I'll tell you why this is, via anecdotes (2, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990515)

We have one guy at work who eats lunch at Wendy's every day. Not salad Wendy's, but frosty (milkshake), burger, and fries Wendy's. One day he grabbed a cinnamon roll at the connected Tim Hortons and talked about how he had a low carb lunch. He's not really that big, a bit overweight, possibly borderline obese according to BMI standards, but it's just so odd to listen to him talk about how he's trying to eat healthier, and then watch him go to Wendy's everyday.

Tired of saying the same thing? (0, Troll)

JetFox (868640) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990299)

Correlation does not mean causation... 'nuff said.

Re:Tired of saying the same thing? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19990415)

Sometimes it's a pretty damn good hint.

Re:Tired of saying the same thing? (4, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990417)

Correlation does not mean causation... 'nuff said.

Did you RTFA? Or just assume correlation.

It could very well be like many other biological items... like women who spend time together tend to align their menstrual cycles... or do you think that's another 'correlation'?

Perhaps the body takes 'fat cues' from your peer group -- if you spend a lot of time with fat people your that might trigger a biological response to store energy... in the same way that throwing up is 'contagious'... where your body sees others doing something, and this triggers the same survival instinct says that if something the people around you ate is making them sick it might be a good idea to get rid of whatever you ate too, since its likely the same stuff.

I'm not saying its true and even if it is true, I'd expect there are likely other elements at play too -- like if you hang out with people who don't excersie you'll probably be less inclined to exercise yourself -- etc, but just writing it off with a sarcastic 'correlation not causation 'nuff said' post is just close minded and ignorant.

I'd certainly be interested in knowing if there is a biological/biochemical factor to it.

Re:Tired of saying the same thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19990513)

I think he didn't even read TFS (summary). it says right there at the end:

It's not that obese or non-obese people simply find other similar people to hang out with. Rather, there is a direct, causal relationship," says Harvard professor Nicholas Christakis.
I guess we found a veteran of /.

Re:Tired of saying the same thing? (2, Interesting)

1729 (581437) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990693)

like women who spend time together tend to align their menstrual cycles... or do you think that's another 'correlation'?


Actually, that's a statistical fallacy, as Ann Watkins [csun.edu] has demonstrated. Two women can have their menstrual cycles out of sync by at most half a month, and once you factor in the length of menstruation and observational error (this "phenomenon" is usually observed very informally), it turns out that the statistics do not support the cycle alignment hypothesis. (These are the details I recall from a talk of Watkins's that I attended several years ago; unfortunately, I can't find the text of that talk online.)

Re:Tired of saying the same thing? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19990509)

Correlation does not mean causation... 'nuff said.

The fact that "correlation does not mean causation" does not imply that all scientific studies are bogus, nor that all conclusions drawn from statistical analyses are unfounded. There is simply more to the story. and if you RTFA you would know that.

Also, some generalizations are actually true of the majority of cases, in which case they are useful.

RTFA, 'nuff said. (2, Informative)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990551)

Except in this case, the study includes a clear timeline, analyzing who gained weight and when.

Their study, published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, involved a detailed analysis of a large social network of 12,067 people who had been closely followed for 32 years, from 1971 until 2003. The investigators knew who was friends with whom, as well as who was a spouse or sibling or neighbor, and they knew how much each person weighed at various times over three decades.

In other words, yes, the study PROVES causality.

Re:RTFA, 'nuff said. (1)

nwbvt (768631) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990673)

I did read the study (and saw a news report on it earlier today), and I can claim with confidence that it does not claim to prove that. Some of the researchers are hypothesizing the cause of this correlation, such as the idea that one's standards of an ideal weight are greatly influenced by one's friends (breaking news, people are affected by peer pressure, more at 11). But these studies do not prove anything, even with the liberal use of the word 'prove' that is often used when discussing science (such as in statements like 'fossils prove evolution to be true'). They merely suggest correlations, whose causes then are scientifically studied.

Tired of saying it incorrectly? (1)

mypalmike (454265) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990679)

Correlation does not imply causation.

Monkey See, Monkey Scarf (4, Funny)

resistant (221968) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990315)

Eating is a social activity as well as a biological necessity. It's logical and obvious that hanging around with and seeing people right next to you in the same room comfortably stuffing their faces with delicious food, lots of it, will strongly suggest joining in on the same tasty chow. If you see them eat yummies many, many times, you'll quite likely eat more many, many times as well. It's a double whammy for all the most disciplined, self-fulfilled individuals.

Dammit, now ... I ... I ... have to go cook something fatty and delicious ....

Its a defensive thing... (5, Funny)

myowntrueself (607117) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990319)

Just as people drive SUVs in order to feel safer sharing the road with other drivers in SUVs people gain weight in order to feel safer alongside other people who are big and fat and might otherwise crush them.

Re:Its a defensive thing... (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990643)

Interesting. I hit upon my own ingenious thought the other day.

I live in the midwest, where things are worse than on the coasts (although I understand things are getting worse there).

It suddenly occurred to me that we in the midwest may be like goldfish. Our bowl is so big (few people / sq. mile compared to Seattle/NY/LA/Tokyo/whatever) that we are just naturally growing to fit our environment.

That's right America. You are getting fat due to the Carassius Auratus Auratus Syndrome [wikipedia.org] .

Just great... (4, Funny)

bensafrickingenius (828123) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990331)

...If my friends hear about this, they'll start abandoning me in droves...

Dumb Correlation? (1)

wolfman_jake (974273) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990333)

Does having dumb friends make you dumb?

Re:Dumb Correlation? (1)

piojo (995934) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990487)

I don't know, but having smart friends certainly makes you smart. That, or no friends.

Re:Dumb Correlation? (3, Insightful)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990593)

Does having dumb friends make you dumb?

No, but socializing with them will make you ACT like if you're dumb. The point of the study is that you LEARN from your friends to eat more and more often.

Study is all wrong... (-1, Flamebait)

GuyverDH (232921) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990343)

It's the choices that the individual makes. period.

No genes.. No viruses.. Not what your friend does.. Not what your family does..

It's what you choose to do. Period.

If your metabolism slows down, eat less, exercise more - as long as your body isn't so badly out of shape that taking 3 steps will kill you.

Diabetes isn't even an excuse. Most of the type 2 diabetics become diabetic because of poor diet choices. Type 1 diabetics need to make even better choices.

I really wish that scientists and doctors would quit trying to hand out excuses.
Too many people today blame anyone or anything but themselves for the dilemnas they find themselves in.

Re:Study is all wrong... (1)

dc29A (636871) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990453)

No genes.. No viruses.. Not what your friend does.. Not what your family does..

It's what you choose to do. Period.

If your metabolism slows down, eat less, exercise more - as long as your body isn't so badly out of shape that taking 3 steps will kill you.
There was this show on TLC about people with weight problems. One woman was working out crazy with help of trainers and doctors, eating extremely well, as little calories as was possible yet she was unable to lose any weight. In fact, sometimes she even gained a few pounds. If I recall correctly, it was some thyroid problem that cut back heavily on some hormone production and this caused her body to "believe" she was constantly starving so her metabolism slowed down to a crawl.

Re:Study is all wrong... (3, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990651)

Yes, there are some rare cases. However, the majority of fat people are not fat because of a thyroid problem. Using rare cases as a counterexample is not a very good argument. Almost 1/3 [mcw.edu] of the people in the US are obese. That's disgusting. Thyroid problems do not account for that high of a percentage of people being overweight.

If only it were that simple (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19990463)

And those depressed people? They need to cheer up. It's all about the choices they made dammit. Quit blaming others.

Smokers? They need to stop smoking! It's all about the choices they made dammit. Quit blaming others.

Skinny geeks? They need to get more exercise and eat better food! It's all about the choices they made dammit. Quit blaming others.

I really wish that scientists and doctors would quit trying to hand out excuses.
Too many people today blame anyone or anything but themselves for the dilemmas they find themselves in.

Re:Study is all wrong... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19990523)

While it's useful for an individual to know how to work around something, it's also important for policy makers (or even doctors) to know the most efficient ways to educate individuals or structure programs. I can envision how, for example, it would be a good thing if a set of studies showed a causal link the article's study suggests and that education programs started to encourage individuals to help educate their friends.

Re:Study is all wrong... (4, Insightful)

Wordsmith (183749) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990539)

No one is making excuses. They're making observations.

They're not claiming that fat rubs off from one person onto another. But friends engage in similar behaviors to one another - that's socialization. The scientists' observation will apply less to those with strong will and more to those who follow group behaviors. Nothing in what these scientists have observed contradicts the idea of personal responsibility; they're making the rather bland discovery that people tend to act like those with whom they identify and those with whom they enjoy spending time. You sound a little too quick to jump the gun with the fed-up borderline-hostile response.

That being said, while weight and physical health are more dependent on personal choices than most would like to believe, to discount the impact of biological and genetic factors outright is just silly. Personal choice has an influence, as do circumstances beyond the person's control; how much is to blame for a given case depends on the person.

Re:Study is all wrong... (2, Insightful)

Craig Davison (37723) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990575)

We all know that in the end you make your own choices about eating habits/exercise, but the study sheds some light on the effects of social situations and peers on your choices.

This is psychology, which effects all of us. And they did do a scientific study. Why would someone make a bad choice? There are more interesting answers than the standard, intellectually lazy "it's their own damn fault. period.".

Re:Study is all wrong... (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990583)

I don't think they are handing out excuses. What they are saying is that people who hang out with lazy people don't exercise and don't eat well often don't exercise and don't eat well themselves. I imagine the same would also apply. If you hang out with people who eat vegan food and play soccer all day, then by doing what they do, you will probably stay pretty slim and in shape. Nobody is saying that you can't hang out with the fatties and remain skinny, or that you can't hang out with the vegan soccer players and gain weight, but that the people you hang out with can effect whether or not you are healthy. I also think it's kind of stupid that scientist try to find reasons or correlating actions to being overweight. We've figured this out a long time ago. Eat less (in terms of calories, not volume/weight of food), and exercise more and you will lose weight. Do the opposite, and you will gain weight. Very simple.

Re:Study is all wrong... (1)

getmerexkramer (955191) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990629)

"If your metabolism slows down, eat less" Err, eating less (and eating less frequently) will make your metabolism slow down even further. Apart from that, how was that post modded interesting?

Re:Study is all wrong... (1)

c_jonescc (528041) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990687)

Really?

And is your statement based on actual science, or simply your need to feel that because you aren't fat then you aren't weak and are therefore superior? You've made all the right decisions then, eh?

Actually, when you when you said "It's what you choose to do. Period." the period really made me think you must be right, and totally disregard the recent studies I read in the journal Nature (21 December 2006, in particular). Afterall, you're so firm in your statement there's no way you can be wrong, even if you have nothing but your 'deep down feelings' to back yourself up.

Re:Study is all wrong... (1)

Starteck81 (917280) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990695)

Mod parent up. You've just summed up everything that is wrong with this country. Everyone wants to blame someone else for their problems.

Gun control advocates want to blame guns but not the people that use them irresponsibly.

We blame companies for low paying jobs(i.e. Walmart) but we keep buying stuff from them.

We eat cheap junk food and sit around watching TV all day, drive places we could have walked and then wonder why we're fat.

The people I admire the most are those who take responsibility for their own life. I know a guy that use to be 60 lbs over weight. He decided to take care of himself and now rides his bicyle to work for a round trip of 40 miles a day. Guess what, he lost all that extra weight.

Until we hold ourselves accountable for how we contribute to society things will not get better. So pick one thing and work on it until you accomplish it and then move on to something else. You'll be amazed how much you can make a difference.

Re:Study is all wrong... (3, Interesting)

_Mustang (96904) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990701)

Frankly the very first thing I thought after reading your comment was - you've never been overweight or are just not bright. Ok maybe that isn't fair and I'm just in a bad way from hearing a blanket statements such as

No genes.. No viruses.. Not what your friend does.. Not what your family does..
It's what you choose to do. Period.
If your metabolism slows down, eat less, exercise more - as long as your body isn't so badly out of shape that taking 3 steps will kill you.
But that's probably the result of 20 years being overweight (~235lbs) without attributable cause. I eat properly with only rare cheats (one snack once a month max) and I exercise regularly. At one point my metabolism was so high that I radiated enough heat that you could feel it if you stood close. That was the result of 6-day/wk training with large weights and heavy cardio. I do have my ebbs and peaks on the fitness front but guess what, even at my previous peak when I was able to run 7KM/h for 45 min straight and bench press 350lbs, I was still not able to get weight below 207lbs or body-fat reading below 20% . I should have been able to since I'm nominally supposed to weigh in the range of 180 according to the experts..

So clearly something genetic must be in play.
I would say it seems the nature/nurture debate is back on - though it is possible to control or at least minimize the nurture in this specific case and while I do not specifically support or deny the research; at least it's being done!

Re:Study is all wrong... (1, Insightful)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990703)

Ok, you are a typical idiot, but I will even elaborate with a story. I had a girlfriend in high school. We dated for a little over three years. Being young and nieve, I always wanted to be with her. Before I go further, she was heavy... ~5' 6", 200lbs. I was 5' 7", 130lbs. After school, she would WALK from her house to pick me up, we would WALK back to her house, she would WALK me home, then WALK home herself. Now this is the part where you have to pay attention. I am not exaggerating in the slightest... in my parents car, one way to her house was 6.2 miles. We walked on the very sidewalks along said roads. That is almost 25 miles of walking... in ONE DAY. And we did this practically EVERY DAY (I liked the sex, she was needy). And here is the best part... she never ate lunch at school. She usually had dinner at my house.

She never lost an ounce of weight. She went through a lot of shoes though.

Eat less and excersize more doesn't always cut it. First hand I have SEEN this.

Re:Study is all wrong... (5, Insightful)

BlueHands (142945) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990767)

This sort of attitude always bothers me.

First,glad to know that you have done your own extensive, scientific study. I guess it is a shame you just have not released it yet. We all await it eagerly, i can tell you.

Secondly, the real problem with the argument that everyone chooses everything they do is that there is some truth to it. There is more untruth, but that sliver is something people gasp and never let go. An example which you will like ignore follows:

25% of the population lack a gene. This lack means that it is harder for them to get enjoyment from smoking. It also makes it easier to quit when they try. By your logic that gene has nothing to do with it and it is merely a choice. However, without knowing ANYTHING else about a group of people except whither or not they lack the gene, i can predict more accurately how hard it will quit then someone who knows nothing. This is not a question of will power but of biology.

People are not created equal, people have different needs and tolerances. Something YOU can control someone else can not. Not because it is a flaw, but because they are not you. You maybe able to eat or not eat as is your whim yet maybe you can not control your anger. We are a messy, wiggly species with the most convoluted lump of matter in the universe between our ears. And you think you control it.

You are not in control of everything in you life, you do not choose to do everything you do. Your heart beats, your feet sweat, your hair grows. People being made aware of the things that shape their lives is nothing but good. People who are social around each tend to do the same sort of things,in a natural and HEALTHY way. This study underlines that.

Your hard line stance is wrong, does nothing to help and merely contains a note of derision and contempt. I hope you learn to accept the things that are beyond your control.

Re:Study is all wrong... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19990809)

Fine, I choose not to be under psychological stress every day. I choose not to listen to those that somehow think they have magical will power that I do not. I choose not to wreck my body with constant up and down weight changes or stress induced illnesses. All of which studies show occurs to the obese when the try to lose weight and not the blessed thin. Have you bothered to read a study on the successes of diet? After 5 years the rate is so low as to be statistically insignificant. What is worse is the damage done to these peoples' body by this exceeds the health risks of the weight they are trying to lose in the first place. For what ever reason some people cannot control their weight and some small fraction can. For reasons that do no correlate to will power, in fact many obese people are among the most strongly willed people on earth. That is why so many die from the stress induced illnesses long before their weight takes their lives. The pathetic idea put forward that some how thin people have the will power to be thing and obese people just choose to be fat is ignorant at best and arrogant at worst. Some day the reasons for obesity will come out. Just like they did for mental illness, diabetes, and ulcers. Each of which came with these same types of stigmas.

A example study.
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/67422.php [medicalnewstoday.com]

On another note, given this so called friend effect seems to be able to affect friends of friends even those that live at great distances, did this researcher compare this to the spread of a contagion before making wild assumptions about a socially spread behavior?

Environment and behavior (1)

benhocking (724439) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990819)

I guess you're one of those rare people where the environment has no impact on their behavior, huh? The thing is, us mere mortals find that the choices we make are influenced by a wide variety of environmental factors. That doesn't mean that we can't fight those influences, but to ignore those influences is to set yourself up for failure.

why can't it work in reverse? (2, Interesting)

joejor (578266) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990357)

as if fit folks would hang out with fat folks in the first place

Correlation != Causation (1, Interesting)

imstanny (722685) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990365)

I really dislike these types of 'studies' because they can be grossly misleading. The same data sets can allow you to draw to correlate a number of conclusions, neither one of which could be correct.

Maybe people that are prone to obesity are also prone to be friends with people that are prone to obesity.

Or, be default, maybe people that remain skinny when their friends get fat break the relationship because they don't like to be friends with fat people, and therefore the only friends the fat person has left are the ones that ended up putting on weight.

The point is, Correlation does not equal Causation.

Re:Correlation != Causation (1)

linRicky (961271) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990677)

Mod Parent up.... This study almost makes one believe that obesity is 'contageous'. Pretty weak argument for a Harvard study I must say....

Re:Correlation != Causation (1)

lxw56 (827351) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990717)

maybe people that remain skinny when their friends get fat break the relationship because they don't like to be friends with fat people, and therefore the only friends the fat person has left are the ones that ended up putting on weight.
You're right that correlation /=causation, but this objection is invalid: the list of friends existed 32 years ago.

Interesting (1)

mgabrys_sf (951552) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990375)

And I always assumed it was a herding instinct.

Re:Interesting (1)

Anomalous Communard (718990) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990491)

That's what I thought, too. Fat people just gravitate towards each other.

Oh, just perfect (1)

L4m3rthanyou (1015323) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990391)

Ugh, now it's going to be that much harder to make friends. :'(

Suggested subtitle for the article: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19990401)

Keeping up with the Jonesing

Psychological (1)

LightPhoenix7 (1070028) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990441)

My guess would be that there's a sort of positive reinforcement when it comes to weight. If you're surrounded by fat people, you'll feel more comfortable with yourself, and you won't change. Contrast this with (in theory) goes on as far as negative reaction - reaction to scorn drives you to change.

direct link? (1)

Ardanwen (746930) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990447)

I couldn't find the direct causal link mentioned above in the article.. just that they couldn't figure out what was the link.. and it doesn't seem that hard to dream up some explanations..

example: You work at a company, your friends work at the same company, company goes bankrupt, you all grow fatter at the same time.
exampl2: You go to college, your friends are of your age, and also go to college, you all grow a beer belly.

RTFA (1)

liegeofmelkor (978577) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990461)

Ok, to counter the first 20 or so posts that, in a nutshell, say "You'll get fat if you're always eating out with your fat friends", I have to say RTFA!! The correlation between your weight and your friends' weights is just as strong when your friends are hundreds of miles away. You're not going out to eat with your cross-country friends. I'm not stepping up here to say the study is definitive causation; I just wanted to point out to the majority of the posts already made that this is not from the simple reason that you eat with your friends.

No, this is a correlation. (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990473)

Since this is a statistical study, and does not have a control group, this proves correlation only. It may simply be that people who are prone to obesity like to hang out together (you don't have to be obese to be prone to obesity, but you may develop it later). In order to have control, you would have to select people's friends for them. You would have to take a random sample of the population and pare some with randomly selected individuals (this is your control group) and pair others with obese individuals (this is your test group). This is the ONLY way to prove causality.

Exactly (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19990479)

this is why society should shun all fat fucktards for the sake of the gene pool. Shun them until they all decide to commit suicide.

The bonus is there would be no fucktarded shitdot sheeple left and the number of Linsux lusers will fall almost 100%.

GO AHEAD FUCKING FLAME AWAY OR WASTE YOUR GODDAMNED MODPOINTS FUCKTARDED SHITDOT SHEEPLE!!

yes but... (5, Funny)

Brad1138 (590148) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990553)

do phat friends make you phat?

Friends/Family Influce People, Doen't CAUSE (5, Insightful)

MBCook (132727) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990613)

People's "intelligence" on this issue continues to amaze me. What does AA tell you to do? Stop hanging out with alcoholics because you are more likely to repeat your behavior if you do. What does NA tell you to do? Stop hanging out with druggies because you are more likely to relapse. If you go to OA (Over-eaters Anon.) I'm guessing they tell you something similar.

People follow their peers to a degree. People gain some weight, their friends see it and lose a little stigma of gaining weight, so they do, and the cycle repeats. If you are fat, you are more likely to hang out with other fat people. Thin people are more likely to not eat as much as you. They are more likely to give you a look for complaining about gaining weight while stuffing your face. Other fat people are likely to sympathize with you. After all, to tell you otherwise would be hypocritical (if they don't follow it) or "mean" (if they are working on it).

Do you wonder why when you see families at malls they are usually all thin or all fat? It's not genes. Maybe that contributes some, but mostly it is diet. If the mom cooks healthy most of the time, the family will be exposed to that very often. If the dad exercises a lot, the kids and mom will be exposed to that. If they just buy fast food and junk all the time and snack lots, the kids will learn those behaviors. I'd bet the relation between close relatives in the same house is about the same as the relation between adoptive parents and children. The habits the kids/family learn are a huge part of things.

I've lost a ton of weight. I didn't have a lot of tolerance for this before, and I'm losing what I have. The causes of obesity are not a mystery. They have been known for a LONG time. There are recent things that contribute (fast food, maybe HFCS, etc), but it is still no mystery. I'd peg it at mostly willpower and intolerance of anything that isn't fun or easy or doesn't feel good; an attitude that is becoming more and more common.

Our attitude has changed. Being fat is much more accepted now. People complain about the "unfair standard" on TV, but it's not like you have no choice. I'll agree the near anorexic models are not realistic, but more and more people seem to be moving into "the blob" territory. I've seen more than a few ultra-obiese people on scooters recently, something I don't remember seeing even 10 years ago.

It's people's fault. For most people it isn't fate. I see people who want to lose weight. Lots. Just about all complain. "I can't lose weight." Yet they continue to not exercise (or they do for about a week and then give it up). They either don't change their eating habits, give up the change after a week or two (which actually makes things worse for you), or change to eating "healthy" and end up eating constantly so the calories are just spread out over the day instead of in 3 huge meals. You don't need gastric bypass surgery. You don't need a miracle diet drug. You don't need a new diet food.

To use make my point in an extreme way, how many people in bad POW camps were overweight. How many in areas with food shortage problems? How many people in the old prison work camps or working in coal mines were overweight? Basically none because these people either got very few calories, or burned a ton. Now some of these fates are horrific, but it proves that basically anyone can lose weight. These days there are only a few people who I would excuse from this requirement, and those are some people on very serious prescription drugs that have strong side effects.

What does diet food do any way? As diet food became more common, people ate more of it. Each cookie may have had fewer calories, but a great many people made up for that with quantity. If someone did invent another miracle pill (something akin to Fen-Phen without the problems), I'm guessing most people would eventually start to gain weight again because they would start to eat more later. I think this is just like how many people who pay off debt with 2nd mortgages get back into debt. With the credit card bills gone, they feel free to spend again and just rack up more credit card debt. They don't change their habits, so it happens again.

I stopped drinking all that soda. I stopped eating so much candy. I started moving more. It works just as well now as it did 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 50 years ago, 200 years ago.

By the way, the relationship is NOT causal. It may be contributory. It may be "enabling". But until someone proves that being fat is either a person-to-person virus or people are secretly injecting you with a secret high calorie serum while you are asleep, just knowing people does not cause you to gain weight.

PS: Behind The Counter [blogspot.com] had a story [blogspot.com] about tons of people stealing that drug that just went over-the-counter, Alli. Their was another post recently about someone returning boxes and looking really embarrassed about it. Easy isn't always so easy.

Re:Friends/Family Influce People, Doen't CAUSE (2, Insightful)

nack107 (704482) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990727)

What about the very simple old sayings of "birds of a feather", etc... If I have a close friend, regardless of where they live, that person is probably going to be very similar to me. That means, if I'm a person that eats a lot because I am depressed or stressed out or any of a number of reasons, my close friend probably does too. Its not a causation. Its a grouping of similar personalities, which in essence what friendship often is.

No shit, Sherlock. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19990621)

Friends do this thing called "hanging out." This means they tend to go the same places and participate in the same activities. If some of these activities are prone to making people gain weight, then the group as friends as a whole will have a propensity for gaining weight. Not as a hard and fast rule, but more of a statistical reality.

The name Ric Romero comes to mind.

Absence of friends does not correlate (5, Funny)

bananaendian (928499) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990697)

But I have no friends, yet I'm still fat ?

Dear fat friend, (1)

Statecraftsman (718862) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990699)

Dear fat friend, It's been nice knowing you but unfortunately I read Slashdot today. They said you're bad for me. Maybe you should use this alone time to get in shape. See ya when you're thin, Concerned (It's-you-not-me) Friend

Ah. /. editors mistake corelation for causation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19990729)

Why am I not surprised.

Boy Howdy, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19990743)

I love being thin. I guess that makes me racist.

With Science Like This, Why Not Preachers (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990751)

You know, I just got my karma back up to excellent, and along comes an article that just demands that I piss it all away.

Every time you get a scientist that rolls out with crap like this, people are less likely to trust any scientist. "Scientist" is a brand, of sorts, just as surely as Nike or Apple, and things like this just undermine the brand.

It makes me wonder if, the Earth is warming up simply because it is next to Mars, which is also warming up. If it can work for people, then why not planets? Whose going to argue against that "logic"? A scientist? What? The same one that says someone is fat because his friend is fat?

A better story: Fructose and Fibre (5, Informative)

BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990817)

I'm suspicious of this fat-friends-make-you-fat story. Heard 'experts' on radio this morning repeating this story, using words like 'infectious', 'contagious'. Smacks of Sensationalist Journalism, and Susy Public will go away thinking she'll get fat if she sits next to a fat person.

This on the other hand is a much better story:

http://www.abc.net.au/rn/healthreport/stories/2007 /1969924.htm [abc.net.au]

It's an interview with Dr Robert Lustig, Professor of Pediatric Endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco. He says, yes, we're getting fat, but the question is why our bodies don't enact a defense against this. One of the culprits: Fructose (Corn Syrup) which food and drink manufacturers have been putting in everything. Your body has real problems regulating this. Fructose with Fibre is ok (an Orange), but without Fibre it's very bad (Orange Juice). Apart from the vitamins, you might as well be drinking pop. Very interesting link: transcript and MP3.
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