Want to lose weight? Make friends with thin people!

The findings, published in the journal Obesity, were based on an analysis of 9,335 people aged between 18 to 65 years and tracked the participants' self-reported social networking changes and body mass outcomes for a year.

Updated: Aug 17, 2016, 17:07 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau

New York: We have heard that having an obese friend can dramatically increase our risk of becoming similarly fat.

Now, a new study suggests that people who are trying to shed pounds are more likely to lose weight if they hang out with thinner people.

The study also showed that people who want to lose weight actually tend to acquire heavier friends over time. This may occur because people who are overweight or obese experience less stigma and weight discrimination when they have heavier friends, the researchers said.

The findings, published in the journal Obesity, were based on an analysis of 9,335 people aged between 18 to 65 years and tracked the participants' self-reported social networking changes and body mass outcomes for a year.

Participants identified the four adults with whom they spent free time most frequently and rated each contact's body mass relative to their own.

“For the study, we relied on how people perceived those in their network rather than actual weight measurements,” said Matthew Andersson, Assistant Professor, Baylor University, Texas.

Participants were then asked whether they wanted to lose, maintain or increase weight and assessed how often they interacted with those they identified as frequent contacts, whether in person or by phone, email, texting or social media.

“Frequency of contact played a major role. With less than 100 interactions with an individual during a year, changes in weight were linked to a fraction of a pound. But as interactions became more, weight differences became more substantial,” added Andersson.

However, the researchers said that future studies are needed to look into the reasons behind the findings.