FAT FRIENDS ARE BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH
Tuesday December 7,2010
By Jo Willey
LOSING weight is simple – just swap all your beer-swilling, pie-munching friends for skinny ones.
Research shows that hanging out with a healthier crowd is more likely to make you drop your bad habits.
A study of 3,610 women aged between 18 and 46 has found that those who move in healthier circles are more likely to eat well and take more exercise.
Professor Kylie Ball, who led the research team, said: “These findings suggest that healthy behaviour may be contagious.”
The researchers tested the extent to which a fashion for healthy behaviour among a person’s friends and family could influence their own lifestyle.
The women who took part in the study were asked to rate how much they agreed with statements such as “I often see other people walking in my neighbourhood” and “Lots of women I know eat fast food often”.
Women who had healthier friends were more likely to eat well and take more exercise.
Professor Ball, from Deakin University in Australia, said: “The importance of social environmental influences on health-promoting behaviours such as physical activity and healthy eating has been increasingly recognised. Ours is one of the first studies to demonstrate the association of both social support and social norms with physical activity and eating behaviours.”
She added: “The potential to modify social norms as an intervention lever for promoting increased engagement in physical activity and healthy eating is worthy of further investigation.”