Obesity is compared with a flu, is considered contagious and could be hand out to you by your closest friend, according to a recent study performed by the researchers from Harvard University! Conforming to their estimated spread out pattern, obesity could reach 42% in the United States in the next 30 to 40 years. Alison L. Hill, one of the students that graduated the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics at Harvard, informs that obesity in America hasn’t plateaued yet, although it remained at a steady 34% in the last 5 years!
Other experts claimed that the actual 34% represents the US obesity peak. However, the Harvard University research informs that a so-called, ‘Friend Effect’ should be blamed for the upcoming growth in the numbers of American people suffering from obesity. It seems that having an obese friend increases the risk of becoming obese yourself, while having normal weight companions will not help you to lose weight. Mrs. Hill compares obesity with a flu and confirms:
“We didn’t find having more healthy-weight friends made it more likely to help people lose weight. It fits in with this idea of thinking about it as an infectious disease. You don’t really catch healthiness.”
The study focused on obesity transmitted through social contacts and found enough similarities between the spread out pattern of flu and the one of overweight problems. It seems that an American has a 2% change of becoming overweight in any year, while every obese social contact from his entourage increases his obesity outburst chance by 0.5%.
An obese person has 4% chance to lose the obesity ‘tag’ and drop enough pounds to return to normal weight, in any given year.
The Harvard research also informs that the rate of weight gain caused by social interaction has picked up since 1971. Mrs. Hill admits:
“It looks like obesity is becoming more infectious.”
The same researchers shared that the overall obesity rate is influenced by 3 main factors: personal factors (diet and exercise), person-to-person contact through social networks and the rate of weight loss among already obese people. This shows that serious government efforts to fight against obesity can provide immediate results. If changes in the public policy are made, people can be helped with preventing obesity and weight loss among already obese people could be accelerated. It would be advisable to implement a change before 1 in 2 Americans will be considered overweight or obese.
This study has been published Tuesday in the journal PLoS Computational Biology.