U.S. researchers have found that obesity can spread through a network of friends, just like the common cold or a penchant for a new style of jeans.
The study, released today in the New England Journal of Medicine, is the first to show that obesity is socially contagious and can spread from person to person to person.
After analyzing the health data collected from more than 12,000 people over 32 years, the researchers found a person’s chance of becoming obese increased by 57 per cent if someone they considered a friend became obese. That risk increased to 171 per cent if it was a mutual friend.
This is one of the first studies to use social networking "science" [ironic scare-quotes added] to examine behavioural health problems, said study co-author Nicholas Christakis, a physician and professor at Harvard Medical School.
“It’s very trendy to speak of the obesity epidemic,” he said...
— Larry, Attack Monkey, Light Reading