Do you have friends that can bring you down instantly when they’re in a sour mood? Lighten you up when they’re energetic or happy? Stress you out when they’re feeling worried? The answer may be yes, but if friends can do all these things… Could they also be making you fat?
This could be a possibility because “humans are social mimics, meaning we mirror the behaviour of those around us.” Says Gavan Fitzsimons, professor of psychology at Duke University.
Harvard University studies also show that there is a 57% greater chance of you putting on weight if your friends have gained weight.
This makes sense because weight gain can be attributed by certain lifestyle choices- the food you like, the amount of exercise you do, how many hours you work a week and how much you drink when you go out. So it could be safe to say that friends too, are a lifestyle choice that can act as an enabler of weight gain.
Apart from the fact that you and your friends might share similar interests and lifestyle choices, these are a few examples that demonstrate the ways that a friend could be influencing your weight gain:
Dining with a date: Women consume 100 fewer calories when dining with a male date than with a female friend, shows research from McMaster University in Ontario.
The positive friend: Researchers theorise that because optimists are more likely to give in to temptation, they might influence you to live a little and indulge in a little bit more while dining with them too!
Eating with the skinny friend: People can eat up to 1.5 times more when with a thinner friend. This is because your thinner friend is likely to have lower cortisol levels, which means they might be able to eat more without putting on weight- University of British Columbia.
Or what about that friend who light heartedly teases you for passing up on that dessert?
Can anyone else relate to these scenarios? I certainly can!
So the question I put to you is do you think weight gain is socially contagious? Whatever the case may be though, if your friends could be influencing you to gain weight, keep in mind that they could certainly be influencing you to keep it off as well!