Social Obesity – A New Term and Trend

The Institute for Vibrant Living natural health research dept. has uncovered a shocking new trend called “Social Obesity”. Their report follows:


Uh oh! Just when you thought you’ve heard all the angles on the Obesity epidemic in America…


…A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine contends that obesity is “socially contagious.”


 In other words, when a person gains weight, their close friends are likely to do the same, thus coining the new term “Social Obesity”… 


The study also concluded that when the scale reads “obese” for one individual, the odds that their friends will become obese increase by more than 50 percent!


Interestingly, the study concluded that the “obese influence” occurs even if the close friend lives hundreds of miles away, meaning they are not seen in person very often.


Dr. Nicholas A. Christakis, a physician and professor of medical sociology at Harvard Medical School and a principal investigator in the study, said one explanation was that friends affected each other’s perception of fatness. When a close friend becomes obese, then obesity may not look so bad. “You change your idea of what is an acceptable body type by looking at the people around you,” said Dr. Christakis.


Other alarming “Social Obesity” insights:


If one adult sibling becomes obese, the chances that the other sibling will become obese are increased by 40 percent.
If a spouse becomes obese, the other spouse has a 37 percent increased risk of obesity.


Does this mean you should go through your address book and cross out the names of your friends with a BMI greater than 30?


Or even disown an overweight spouse or sibling?


Of course not!


“We’re not suggesting that people should sever their ties with overweight friends,” says Christakis. “Having friends is healthy for you.” Experts stress that people with more friends tend to enjoy better emotional and cognitive well being.


This new take on having overweight associates is of no small concern (no pun intended), since obesity has become a major public health problem in the United States and other Western nations.


Indeed, around the world, the number of people struggling with weight problems is increasing rapidly.


Within the US alone, the fraction of the population considered obese has doubled in the past 25 years, from 15% to 32%.


Based on World Health Organization definitions, people are considered obese if they have a body mass index, or BMI, over 30.


Here’s a rundown on the health risks again:


Obesity is associated with an increased risk for some types of cancer including endometrial (cancer of the lining of the uterus), colon, gall bladder, prostate, kidney, and postmenopausal breast cancer.


Beware ladies, women who gain more than 20 pounds from age 18 to midlife double their risk of postmenopausal breast cancer, compared to women whose weight remains stable.


Brutal reality: Obesity contributes to increasing levels of lipids (fat) and cholesterol in the blood (hyperlipidemia and hypercholesterolemia respectively), leading to narrowing of blood vessels due to deposition of fatty materials in coronary arteries (atherosclerosis). In turn, this causes the blood pressure levels to soar (hypertension) and increases the risk of heart attack (myocardial infarction) and strokes.


Overweight people are also more likely to suffer from sleep apnea, a condition in which a person snores heavily and stops breathing for small periods while sleeping. This is a serious condition that may lead to heart failure.


Obesity increases the risk of diabetes because it increases insulin resistance leading to glucose intolerance. Weight reduction helps many diabetic patients in controlling their diabetes.


Excess body weight exerts more pressure on joints wearing out the tissue that pads the joints leading to osteoarthritis. Losing weight can provide significant relief from this condition.


What all these dangerous risk factors really mean to our society at large, is that most of us who have friends or family members who are obese should be vigilant about maintaining a healthy weight to serve as an example.


(In order to help people achieve this goal, the Institute for Vibrant Living has formulated special “superfood” (derived from whole foods) supplements – that when taken daily -can alkalize the body and allow it to flush out excess fat without changing one’s life style or diet. It’s remarkable, indeed. And it is backed by solid science. To learn more, visit their website and click on “All Day Energy Greens”.)


Shouldn’t we lead healthy lifestyles and encourage others to do the same?


By supporting each other, we can develop a happier, healthier and more physically fit nation. (We’ve come a long way down from JFK’s Fitness Proclamation!)


The ultimate benefit of practicing these principles will be to live longer and happier lives, so that we may enjoy the precious time we have been given to spend with our loved ones!