COMMUNITY: Are Your Social Networks Creating Second-Hand Obesity?

Posted: 13 years ago | By: Christine Somers | In: General | Read Time: 3 minutes, 13 seconds
Remember peer pressure from high school? When a kid was caught smoking, the blame was always put on Peer Pressure. As adults we hope we have outgrown Peer Pressure and are now capable of making our own independent choices. We are reminded every day that we are a Social Species. Did you know that your Social Network has a direct effect on your health? The Framingham Heart Study is an ongoing study since 1948. In 2007 they released a study called “The Spread of Obesity in a Large Social Network over 32 Years”. The finding concluded that people who associate with obese people are more likely to suffer from obesity themselves. This relationship did not require that you are in the same location, just that you were keeping in contact. Thus a weekly phone call with an overweight friend or loved one gives you the same negative result as seeing them in person. I personally watched this happen to my wife. When I first started dating Sophia she weighed 180 lbs and I weighed 333 lbs. Within a year of being married to me, she weighed 215 lbs and I weighed 350 lbs. Obesity loves Company. During that year we tried 3 different diets and hired a person nutritionist and trainer. All we lost was time and money. Most diets work for a time but 85% of people gain their weight back within two years. I experienced this myself. I would fall back to my old ways and drag Sophia with me, both of us gaining more weight than when we started. We found social events to be the most challenging times. I would go with great intentions of eating right only to be disappointed with myself the next day. I consoled myself by thinking “what can I do? At least we all had a great time”. So how do you deal with Peer Pressure? First stay in touch with your overweight friends and family. Otherwise with 2/3 of Americans suffering from Obesity you will be very lonely. Also having good healthy relationships has health benefits that are as important as keeping a healthy weight. That said realize that there are steps you can take to control the pressure you face in your social networks. Health can be just as contagious as a disease. Find people who have the health that you want to have. The more healthy people you hang around the more likely you will become healthy. Find people who have overcome the health issues you now face. If you need to get to a healthy BMI (Body Mass Index, the standard to measure obesity) looks for the people who have had the positive outcome you desire. That is what we did over 3 years ago as part of program that helped us lose and maintain our weight. Sophia lost 65 lbs and I lost 150 lbs. We have kept off the weight for over 2 years. We recently attended a local celebration of over 500 people who had lost from 5 lbs to 160 lbs, and were on the journey to the best shape of their lives. Ages ranged from 20 to 88 years old. I met a person who was able to get off 11 medications by reaching a healthy BMI. That is what I call an epidemic outbreak of Health. (We have these meeting every few months locally as well as around the country. Call or e-mail me for details.) Start to take the lead. Now when we get together with friends and family we bring our own food to the party to help keep us on track, and we share it with others. We also keep each other accountable. Making these changes may seem difficult at first, but eventually they become habits that affect both you and your network. We found this to be true as some of our friends have chosen to join us on the road to health. Good Health is a choice that loves company.