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Your best friend = Your partner in crime/fitness

Your best friend = Your partner in crime/fitness

In the depths of winter, it’s normal to find your favorite jeans a little tighter than usual or to consume more food; in the Northeast, it seems to be part of life. However, you might want to take a look at your close relationships in order to better understand the additional pounds. A study conducted over 30 years (1971 to 2003) and published in 2007 by the National Institute of Health claims that in close relationships where one individual gains weight, the other’s weight is negatively influenced. With over 12,000 people involved, this study examined all kinds of “close relationships” – spouses, siblings, close friends of the same and opposite sex. Their findings indicated that as one half of the pair gained weight, the other did as well.

The only exception, according to this study, was found in siblings of the opposite sex, and to a lesser degree, friends of the opposite sex. The psychological effects of weight gain on each other are obvious: as one person begins abusing food or taking poorer care of himself, the other mirrors this behavior. Does this mean that because your roommate is gaining the freshman 15 that you are doomed to the same fate? Definitely not. However, consider this not-so-pretty figure: Among close same-sex friendships, 71% of friends of the obese became obese themselves. Along the same vein, heterosexual couples tended to be affected by their obese partners 37% of the time.

What does this study mean for the United States? It cements social ties and learned behaviors as main instigators of weight gain, and explains the rapidly rising obesity figures that threaten Americans. Our close relationships exponentially augment the expansion of our waistlines, and it seems this “epidemic” is as close to contagious as mono. However, negligence can no longer be our excuse. Most notably (read: importantly), The Biggest Loser’s seventh season has recently commenced on NBC, but this time, couples have signed on to makeover themselves and their lives. As they struggle together and apart to lose weight, we will be able to see their parallel journeys and how their motivational pairs help them achieve their goals. Hopefully, we will be able to translate this experience into our own lives in order to combat the study’s figures. Find a gym buddy, commit to a healthy lifestyle with your suitemates, and most importantly, take care of each other as you would take care of yourself.


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