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Obesity Tied to Social Networking

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By Rachel Stockton (rachels@foodconsumer.org)


People are starting to get a little prickly when it comes to the obesity issue.

And, it's no wonder. Overweight people have oft complained that they are socially vilified in a nation that "encourages" youth, beauty, and a dress size in the lower single digits.

These days, however, obesity is coming under scrutiny because of the upcoming health care reforms that are looming on the horizon of our national consciousness. Added to that is a report in the New England Journal of Medicine that uses words like "contagion" when referring to the effect friends have on a person's weight, and you have a lot of overweight people who feel as though they are in the hot seat.

But the fact remains that the research touted in the reputable journal proves a definite social link, when it comes to whether or not a person becomes obese or not. According to the study, if your close friend becomes obese, you are 57% more likely to gain weight yourself, even if your buddy lives across the continent rather than across the street.

Teenagers also follow the lead of their peers when it comes to BMI; whether or not this is because overweight teens are more likely to hang out with others who are also overweight, or if eating habits are as "catching" as mono, remains a little murky.

The trick here lies in the way in which we convey to young people that weight matters; not because a child is less of a person when he is overweight, but because his or her quality of life will be better if he or she is active and is getting enough healthy nutrients without loading up on empty calories. Sandra Tester, a licensed therapist in Arkansas stresses that parents need to practice ways to communicate acceptance to a child who is overweight, while still motivating him or her to try and learn new ways of eating.


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Subscribe to comments feed Comments (3 posted):

Carolyn Hook on 08/03/2009 14:39:20
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Great job, Rachel. And obesity leads to many of the problems of wellness we see today in our society. Our "disease care" system is broke and "we" ae shouting to our government to fix it, when we need to be looking at the relationship between what we put in our mouths and the downward slope that results in our chronic diseases that require so much money to "maintain" our disease. I prefer the idea of prevention and regeneration myself... and there is a way to do that!
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The Figure Coach on 08/04/2009 11:48:48
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There is a way to lose weight naturally without pills that can be potentially harmful to you. Learn how to shop at your local supermarket and buy the right foods that boost your metabolism naturally and promote weight loss. Find out about short but effective cardio and exercise routines that will dramatically increase your fat loss, with minimal effort.

Visit www.fastfatlossplan.com and find out how you can do it without potential risks associated with drugs, pills or surgery.
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Lee Fox on 08/04/2009 23:52:54
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We’re looking at the first generation in history that will not outlive their parents unless the childhood obesity epidemic is addressed.

I am in full agreement that we need our kids to understand the challenge they face, and provide them with both the awareness and the tools to address this issue.

Events involving youth are key, such as the KooDooZ and O2 MAX Fitness walk to raise awareness to America's expanding waist-lines: http://is.gd/2100l-

Rachel, thanks for sparking more conversation on this important issue.
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