Weight loss `can be contagious`

Last Updated: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - 17:00

Washington: Believe it or not, weight loss is "contagious". This is the conclusion of a new study which included an Indian-origin researcher.

Dr Rajiv Kumar and colleagues from the Miriam Hospital and Alpert Medical School have found that teammates in a team -based weight loss competition significantly influenced each other`s weight loss, the `Obesity` journal reported.

In fact, the researchers found that the team members not only achieved similar weight loss outcomes, but participants who said their teammates played a large role in their weight loss actually lost the most weight.

"We know that obesity can be socially contagious, but now we know that social networks play a significant role in weight loss as well particularly team-based weight loss competitions," said team leader Tricia Leahey.

"In our study, weight loss clearly clustered within teams, which suggests that teammates influenced each other, perhaps by providing accountability, setting expectations of weight loss, and providing encouragement and support," she said in a release issued by the Miriam Hospital.

The findings are based on the results of the 2009 Shape Up Rhode Island campaign, a 12-week statewide online weight loss competition designed by Dr Kumar.

In the study, participants joined with a team and could compete against other teams in three divisions: weight loss, physical activity and pedometer steps.

The weight loss competition included 3,330 overweight or obese individuals, representing 987 teams averaging between five and 11 members each. The majority of these individuals enrolled in all three divisions.

Weight loss outcomes were clearly determined by which team an individual was on. Participants who lost clinically significant amounts of weight (at least 5 per cent of their initial body weight) tended to be on the same teams, and being on a team with more teammates in the weight loss division was also associated with a greater weight loss.

"This is the first study to show that in these team-based campaigns, who`s on your team really matters. Being surrounded by others with similar health goals all working to achieve the same thing may have really helped people with their weight loss efforts," Leahey said.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - 17:00

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