Peer pressure is nothing new. However, a study published in the journal PLoS One has found evidence that the pressure doesn’t just apply to whether or not you should like a particular boy band or what activities should you participate in. Apparently, your friends may also influence your weight.

Studying data from two distinctly different schools that had participated in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, researchers aimed to find out just to what extent the influence of friendship on weight is. From Jefferson High, a school built in a rural area and primarily attended by white students, researchers were able to analyze data on 624 students. From Sunshine High, a school in an urban area with a wider range of racial and ethnic diversity, they were able to analyze reports on 1,151 students.

Based on the results, students who were overweight but were in the company of lean friends had a 40 percent chance of slimming down in the future. On the other hand. those who were surrounded by obese friends only had a 15 percent of losing weight. In addition, researchers found that a more proactive strategy works better than a passive one (e.g. activities on weight loss aren’t as effective as a campaign against weight gain). On that note, researchers believe that it’s important to consider the influence of friends when taking on the subject of obesity.

However, the study has a few limitations. For one, the data gathered from the students was over 10 years old. The general classification of obesity back then was smaller than it is at present. Still, looking at today’s social situation, has anything really changed?


(Photo by Scarleth White via Flickr Creative Commons)

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