A new study reveals that if you are heavy, you are more likely to lose weight if you widen your social circle to include thinner friends.
Heavy people may be concerned about weight discrimination and also feel more comfortable hanging out with people who are like themselves, but this may be go against them if they are trying to lose weight, says Matthew Andersson, a researcher at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.
Mr. Anderson led a team of researchers that analyzed Gallup Organization survey of 9,335 people aged 18 to 65.
The team also supplemented the data with questions, tracking for 1 year the participants’ self-reported social networking changes and body mass outcomes.
Respondents identified the 4 adults with whom they spent free time most frequently, whether household members, relatives or friends. They also rated each contact’s body mass relative to their own. They were also asked if they wanted to lose, gain or maintain their weight.
The study also assessed how often participants interacted with those they identified as frequent contacts, whether in person or by phone, e-Mail, texting or social media.
Frequency of contact played a major role.
With fewer than 100 interactions with an individual during a year, changes in weight were linked to a fraction of a pound. But as interactions reached hundreds and even thousands, weight differences became more substantial, according to the study, which appears in Obesity.
“That’s not to recommend that someone seeking to slim down should chuck their chunky chums, says Mr. Andersson.
“What we don’t know is what respondents are doing with their social contacts, whether through texting, in person or on social media. They might be going out to eat, they might be going to the gym, they might be doing something totally unrelated. We just don’t know.”
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