Weight loss can be contagious

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If you have to be the victim of a contagious disease, this is a pretty good one. According to a new study people who participated in a team-based weight loss competition significantly influenced each other’s weight loss helping them all to shed extra pounds.

Team members not only achieved similar weight loss outcomes, but participants admitted that their teammates made all the difference.

“We know that obesity can be socially contagious, but now we know that social networks play a significant role in weight loss as well, particularly team-based weight loss competitions,” said lead author Tricia Leahey, PhD, of The Miriam Hospital and Alpert Medical School. “In our study, weight loss clearly clustered within teams, which suggests that teammates influenced each other, perhaps by providing accountability, setting expectations of weight loss, and providing encouragement and support.”

About a third of American adults are obese according to the CDC. Not a single state has met the nation’s Health People 2010 challenge to get obesity under 15%. Health problems for obese people include heart disease and diabetes, arthritis and even infertility. Weight related health issues cost the nation hundreds of billions of dollars each year.

“This is the first study to show that in these team-based campaigns, who’s on your tea really matters,” said Leahey. “Being surrounded by others with similar health goals all working to achieve the same thing may have really helped people with their weight loss efforts.”

Leahey concluded, “We’re all influenced by the people around us, so if we can harness this positive peer pressure and these positive social influences, we can create a social environment to help encourage additional weight loss.”

Source: ScienceDaily, Obesity


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