Is Obesity Contagious?

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According to a recent study reported in USA Today, the more obese friends we have, the more likely we are to be obese ourselves.  It’s the second study confirming that finding from Harvard researchers who say their studies suggest that obesity spreads through social networks.

There are so many things I want to sigh at about these studies, and how they are reported, but in the interest of keeping this post short, I’ll just focus on this quote from USA Today:  “…it’s in your best interest to help your friends lose weight.”

How about focusing on helping each other eat well, enjoy physical activity, manage stress, feel our feelings instead of covering them up with food?  How about helping each other get back in touch with our bodies and trust our internal cues instead of worrying about how we look, which keeps us caught up in our heads and out of touch with our bodies?

It’s no secret that I’m a big supporter of giving up the focus on weight for a focus on health.  But even that doesn’t get at what I’m really a big supporter of.  Health as it is generally defined doesn’t include happiness.  And happiness as it is generally defined doesn’t include health.  But they are inseparable.

So my vote for helping my friends who may be larger than is healthy for them (and that’s very individual) is to help them feel great psychologically and physiologically.  Focusing on their weight doesn’t do that.  Focusing on what makes us happy can.

The season for happiness is fast approaching.  This season, try helping each other truly enjoy it, instead of worrying about our weight.  That usually only makes things worse.

What are your tips for helping your friends…and yourself…truly enjoy the coming holidays?


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About the Author

Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, CD

If you’re looking for an embodiment of dedication disguised as obsession, look no further. Marsha is a registered dietitian who has spent the last four decades working to help women give up dieting rules and understand how to truly take care of themselves. Her mission in life is to help women learn to enjoy eating and living well, without worries about their weight. She encourages women to embrace their love of food, which you might call being a foodie. If so, it’s appropriate because being a foodie means you pay attention when you eat. That’s a recipe made in heaven for eating well. Marsha is the President and Co-Owner of Green Mountain at Fox Run.

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