28 October 10 Degrees of Separation

Ever hear of the game called "Six Degrees of Separation"? It's built on the premise that nearly any two people in the world can be linked together through six people. Kevin Bacon popularized this concept in Hollywood by claiming any actor can be linked to him by connecting him/her through six or fewer movies.

So what does this have to do with weight loss, you ask? Researchers have found that our connections to others who are or become obese may increase our own chances of becoming obese. This doesn't mean we get to say that we're overweight entirely because of familial or friendly influences, but it is something of which we can be mindful.

The study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2007, was a culmination of data collected for over 30 years and included over 12,000 individuals. It looked at the likelihood of a person's weight gain being attributed to their relationship to another obese person. Researchers found that the type of relationship the two people had was the greatest factor in how likely a person was to gain weight. Here's a summary of the results: if your closest friend gained weight, your risk of obesity increased by 171 percent; however, if your adult sibling became obese, your risk of also becoming obese is only increased by 40 percent. And what about the influence from our spouses? If our spouse becomes obese, our risk of obesity is only increased by 37 percent. This means our closest friends have the most influence over our potential for gaining weight.

But it wouldn't be fair to blame our friends and family for our weight gain, and another study has shown that we can actually benefit from their support while losing weight. Researchers examined the power of recruitment when people work together with a friend or family member to lose weight. It was discovered that our social network can greatly increase our chances of success. The study showed that when someone was recruited by a friend to lose weight he/she lost more weight over a four-month period than if that person had done it alone, and two-thirds of those who lost weight with social support maintained their weight from months 4 to 10. However, only 24 percent of those without social support could maintain their weight for six months after the loss occurred.

So if you haven't already, motivate your friends and family to join or support you in your weight loss goal. Your chance of success will improve greatly, and it will just be more fun to do it with them! And don't forget, MyNetDiary lets you connect to others through the Online Community and Groups.

Ryan Newhouse

Ryan Newhouse is the Marketing Director for MyNetDiary and writes for a variety of publications. He wants you to check out MyNetDiary on Instagram!

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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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Weight Loss/Family & Friends

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