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Is obesity contagious?

Associating with people who are obese and who tend to make unhealthy food choices can influence your own behavior. Think about it: you go to a restaurant with a group of friends, prepared to avoid the bread basket, order water and choose a salad and a small fish entrée. Your friends order mixed drinks and wine, then they ask for a second bread basket and order fried calamari and garlic toast, discussing some rather unhealthy main course choices. You succumb to temptation, and end up leaving the restaurant having consumed many more calories, and many more forkfuls of unhealthy food and drink, than you planned. If these are your close friends, this probably happens more often than not.

A review of several studies suggests that your healthy and unhealthy food behaviors are affected by the company you keep. If your friends are all watching their waistlines, then their healthy food behaviors in a restaurant will more than likely affect your choices. If however, they are overweight and typically order lots of unhealthy foods and caloric beverages, it’s more than likely that your food choices will be similar.
According to Harvard researchers, you're more likely to become obese if you're in contact with obese people. The scientists said that your chances of becoming obese increase by 0.5% with each obese family member, friend, or coworker you have in your social network.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.