February 28, 2012

Is weight loss contagious?


It’s been said that laughter is contagious. Another feather in the cap of contagions may be weight loss. New research is showing that the company you keep in the business of losing weight is communicable, in a good way.

Furthermore, the study found that like-minded people have greater chances of achieving similar weight loss outcomes. People who felt their conciliatory comrades motivated  weight loss actually lost the most weight. This gives a new meaning to the old saying choose your friends wisely.

The results were based on the 2009 Shape Up Rhode Island (SURI). SURI was a 12-week statewide online weight loss competition. Participants joined with a team and competed against other teams in three divisions: weight loss, physical activity and pedometer steps.

The idea of doing anything in a “team sport” style adds the element of a common goal to win. It is debatable but empirical that obesity is socially contagious. The hypothesis of this study tested if social networks could play a similar role in weight loss. It’s a lot like the Biggest Loser sans the grand prize of big bucks.

The point of this study revealed good information.  Obesity is a huge problem, no pun intended. Every year this epidemic is costing nations more and more and  hindering the quality of life for many people. Online team-based weight loss programs are growing in popularity to encourage rewarding weight loss. How amazing would it be if they were backed by a jackpot like Fantasy Football?

As much as I’d like to believe that weight loss is contagious – it may be misfitting in this context. Cholera or Ebola are contagious ways to lose weight – not ideal methods, either.   But if you’re building a strong plan to lose weight, it is worth surrounding yourself with an empathetic, influential team.

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