Obese people help thin friends gain weight!

Updated: May 01, 2011, 20:41 PM IST

London: Do our friends make us fatter? Yes, according to a new study which has found that thin people who socialise with the obese can put on weight.

But, here is the good news. The process can work in reverse too theoretically, says the study.

For the study, a team, led by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler, examined 32 years of data collected during a research of people`s hearts in Framingham in Massachusetts.

Researchers discovered that where two people who are friends for a long time, and where one is heavier than the other, the thinner friend tended to increase in weight by up to 57 per cent over time.

The figure was made more even more stark when compared to the likelihood of the same happening between genetic relations -- 40 per cent -- and spouses, where the weight increase is an average of 37 per cent.

As an example of how it affects people who aren`t friends, the researchers studied the weights of neighbours and found no link in weight increase.

"I think our findings reinforced the idea that because people are interconnected, their health is interconnected," Dr Christakis was quoted by the `Daily Mail` as saying.

The process could also help obese people lose weight.

Dr Christakis said: "The same kind of phenomenon that contributes to an obesity epidemic could potentially -- potentially -- be harnessed to contribute to a reversal of the epidemic, because it`s equally the case that one person losing weight contributes to others around them losing weight."

At a basic level the results also seem to show that fatter people stick together, as do skinny people.

PTI