You may have heard this before, but it's worth repeating. The folks you hang out with can determine the measurement of your waistline.
It's the continuation of the old adage "Birds of a feather flock together"... Just think, if you are part of a blow out pizza and beer Friday night crowd, how likely are you to eschew the brew and grab veggie sticks? Yep, that's the problem. Even if you wanted to, the majority of folks will be carried on the calorie wave with their BFF's.
In a world focused on social networks, it's not surprising that the power of social acceptance can torpedo the best healthy intentions. And, guess what? Friends trump your family when it comes to the Birds of a feather phenomenon.
Dr. Nicholas Christakis, a physician and professor of medical sociology at Harvard Medical School and a principal investigator in a study on the impact of friends in relation to weight says one explanation is that friends affect each others' perception of fatness. When a close friend becomes obese, obesity may not look so bad.
"You change your idea of what is an acceptable body type by looking at the people around you," Christakis said.
The investigators say their findings can help explain why Americans became fatter in recent years: Persons who became obese were likely to drag some friends with them.
It also might mean that the way to avoid becoming fat is to avoid having fat friends.
That is not the message they meant to convey, say the study investigators, Christakis and his colleague James Fowler, an associate professor of political science at the University of California in San Diego. You don't want to lose a friend who becomes obese, Christakis said. Friends are good for your overall health, he explains.
Here are a couple of ways to maintain your intentions around those that may not share them:
1. Eat before you visit with friends. Even if it's a quick cup of coffee, if you are starving you are more likely to binge eat. Beware of the folks in your posse that love to watch you eat- "Oooh! that dessert looks good, you have one!"
2. Have some great "come back" comments ready. Like: OMG! I had such a big lunch I think I'll have a salad tonight, or... lets park the car here and walk to the restaurant, it's a beautiful night."
Having friends is fun so don't stress about their size, but do understand the social impact it may be having without your knowledge.
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