Obesity: The Black Plague of America!!

Ok, I just read an article whose hypothetical conclusions make me seriously question the value of this kind of science:

People who notice their friend packing on pounds might want to steer clear if they value their sleek physiques.

A new study finds that when the scale reads “obese” for one individual, the odds that their friends will become obese increase by more than 50 percent.

The study, published in the July 26 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, suggests that obesity is “socially contagious,” as it can spread among individuals in close social circles. The likely explanation: A person’s idea of what is an appropriate body size is affected by the size of his or her friends.

Conversely, the researchers found that thinness is also contagious.

“Social effects, I think, are much stronger than people before realized,” said co-author James Fowler, a social-networks expert at the University of California-San Diego. “There’s been an intensive effort to find genes that are responsible for obesity and physical processes that are responsible for obesity, and what our paper suggests is that you really should spend time looking at the social side of life as well.”

Now is it just me, or does all of this seem to be extremely, even painfully obvious? Did none of these folks take any social science courses in college? How many times have we heard about social norms being one of the primary predictor of a persons acceptable body image/size? I didn’t see a single conclusion from this research that said anything that hasn’t already been demonstrated a gazillion times. But here’s the kicker:

Other studies have suggested that obesity might be physically contagious, possibly passing from one person to another by virus. But that idea has not been firmly supported. The new study doesn’t address this possibility but instead looked at mindsets and attitudes as the controlling factors. – [Yahoo/AP]

I’d really like to know who came up with the “fat virus” idea. After all of the years and years of reasearch, studies, tests, surveys, psychological profiling, trillions spent in research into the causes of obesity, etc., someone actually comes up with “There must be a “fat virus””. And let me guess: with the right diet and exercise, this virus will die of it’s own accord. Must not be a particularly hardy virus. Especially if it is susceptible to broccoli.

No disrespect to the researchers and stuff, but could you please stop with the kangaroo research and find a cure for AIDS, or cancer or something? I’m overweight, and I already know exactly why. My genes suck, I don’t eat right, and I really don’t feel like getting up off my big old bahookey and going to the gym every day. Not to mention that it’s acceptable to be overweight in my social sphere, so why expend the energy? (BTW, I think that one paragraph sums up all of this weighty research quite succinctly.)

When I’m ready to lose weight I’ll head on over to the gym or start running or something. Move on scientists. Please…!

Study: Obesity is Socially Contagious – [Yahoo/Live Science]


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