Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Do you want to be one in 66 million?

Currently there are over 66 million Americans who are classified as obese.

Do you want to be one in 66 million?

How much is your health worth to you?

Is it worth 30 minutes a day?

Is it worth an additional five years with your family and friends? Another ten?

Think about it.

How much is your life worth to you?

In 2007, the New England Journal of Medicine reported that individuals concerned about their excessive weight gain should look to their inner circle for clues. "The study showed that obesity spreads within social networks and that the closer the social connection — even if people live in different households many miles apart — the greater the influence on developing obesity," (Christakis and Fowler, 2007).

According to an article by the National Institute of Health, findings include:

-A key participant’s chances of becoming obese increased by 57 percent if he or she had a close friend who became obese.

-In same-sex friendships, a close friend becoming obese increased a key participant’s chance of becoming obese by 71 percent. However, no such association was found in opposite-sex friendships.

-The perception of friendship also was an important factor. When two people identified each other as close friends, the key participant’s risk of becoming obese increased by 171 percent if his or her friend became obese. In contrast, a key participant was not likely to become obese if someone claimed a close friendship with him or her but the key participant did not report the friendship.

-Among pairs of siblings, one’s becoming obese increased the other’s chance of becoming obese by 40 percent. This finding was more marked among same-sex siblings than opposite-sex siblings.

-In married couples, one spouse’s becoming obese increased the likelihood of the other spouse becoming obese by 37 percent. Husbands and wives appeared to affect each other equally.

-Obesity spread across social ties, despite geographic distance from one person to another. Further, social distance — the degree of social separation between two people in the network — appeared to make more of a difference than geographic distance in the spread of behaviors and norms associated with obesity.

-An immediate neighbor’s becoming obese did not affect a person’s risk of becoming obese.

-Smoking behavior was not associated with the spread of obesity from person to person.

While this may be troubling news, there is good news as well. Inner circles can influence weight, yes, this is true; however, just as they can be a factor in weight gain, they can also be a factor in weight loss!

Creating a strong, focused support network devoted to weight loss and good health can slowly reverse the increasing numbers of overweight Americans.

How many are taking their health into their own hands?

Many dieters fail because they approach weight loss with the wrong attitude. Looking for a quick fix with dieting pills or fad diets may give you immediate results, but they will not help maintain a healthy weight. While some individuals may need medical assistance, surgery should always be considered an absolute last resort, unless directed by your physician.

The average American's weight loss can be managed through proper diet and exercise; however, in today's society of instant gratification, everyone is looking for that quick fix.

Sorry, it just isn't out there. But, solid diet and exercise programs are available, which can not only change your body, but your mental outlook too.

First, you have to begin with a support group. Building a strong foundation can help individuals maintain their proper, balanced diets, maintain their work out programs, and seek healthy alternatives which will benefit their goals, not destroy them.

Secondly, step up a schedule that you can follow, until the program becomes routine. Research shows that forming a new habit takes at least 21 days, so set a schedule for your new program that consists of 21 days. This will help re-train your mind to include healthy eating and exercise.

Third, time. Yes, it will take time to loss the weight, depending on how much you have to lose. I have a friend who told me it took him three years to lose the weight he desired, but he kept at it, kept working out, because it was important to him to get his health and fitness in shape. This is where your support system will be essential. In times when you are feeling in doubt about your weight loss, they can help keep you motivated.

When you decide (and I do hope that you decide to get fit and take care of your health) to get fit, develop a support system. Enlist your friends, family members, co-workers, associates, anyone you know to join you to get fit. This will help keep you and your network accountable for exercising. People join people, so the more people you have joining you, the more responsibility you feel to meet goals and help keep you motivated.

Local groups may have networks built for a specific audience, like new moms or seniors, which you can join. Gyms may offer groups as well. Health and Wellness companies, like Beachbody, offer online fitness coaches and team forums to help keep you motivated to your goals and inspire you to keep moving forward.

However you go, developing a network will help you reach your goals.

It is true that your inner circle is indicative of your fitness; however, you do have a choice as to what that fitness is.

Join the Revolution!


Christakis, N.A., and Fowler, J.H. The spread of obesity in a large social network over 32 years. New England Journal of Medicine (2007), 357(4):370-379.

Farrer, Susan. New NIH-Supported Study Characterizes Social Networks of Family, Friends Influencing Obesity. National Institute of Health (2007). Retrieved on May 27, 2009 from

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