Saturday, March 17, 2007

To Lose Weight Choose Skinny Friends

tidbits that tantalize

Step To The

Left, Please...

"Thank You - step to the left, please. Next. Thank you - step to the left."

The auditions have been brutal. Though not exactly in American Idol's league, the lines have been steady, the competition fierce and disappointments severe. But, there really doesn't appear to be much choice. The doctor made it quite clear. Lose some weight "or else." Not being the confrontational type, you opted not to ask exactly what the "or else" option entailed and settled on a new diet strategy.

You read that hanging around with overweight folks tends to add pounds, so you figured a new set of appropriately skinny friends was in order. A pithy classified ad, the promise of free doughnuts (a simple first cut) and an industrial scale rental and you were well on your way. So far, so good. The heavyweights to the left, the possibles to the right.

Now, after a grueling twelve hours, you're ready for the final selections. Weights are recorded, body mass indexes (BMI) tabulated, food preferences analyzed and... Ah - the final list. You have eight brand new, weight and BMI optimized friends - and two alternates in case of unforeseen complications.

Is this really how we will choose our friends in the future? If the goal is weight loss it's possible.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School studied data from the Framingham Heart Study. The study began in 1948 and has followed multiple generations of participants. The goal of the current analysis was to assess the impact of obesity within social networks.

The results indicate having obese friends greatly increases the likelihood of becoming overweight. The most significant influence comes from same sex friends - men being influenced more by male friends and women by female friends. This same sex association is even stronger than the impact spouses have on one another. The study refers to these social groups as "obesity clusters" and, apparently, their impact on ones weight is much the same as peanut clusters.

Well - it's been a successful day. You pack up your charts and graphs, gather your eight newfound friends and start to make plans for the night. Then it happens. One of your new buddies steps forward and says, "We've been talking and - we're going to have to ask you to take a turn on the scale."

Hmm... where are those alternates?

To read more about the study, see this from the Harvard University Gazette. To read more about obesity and to find weight loss resources, see this from the Centers for Disease Control.


Blogger Suzanne Lieurance said...

Hey, Tim,

Gee. Usually when I have skinny friends I just fatten THEM up over time.

Your website looks GREAT, BTW! Nice job!

The Working Writer's Coach

3:30 PM  

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