A new study reports that people may be more likely to lose weight if they start socialising with thinner people.
These findings were made by Matthew Andersso, Ph.D., a researcher at Baylor University, who evaluated whether the goal of weight loss is linked to social contact with individuals perceived to be thinner or heavier.
Obesity significantly increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, and people who develop type 2 diabetes are often urged to lose weight.
This is primarily achieved through eating a good diet and keeping good control of blood glucose levels, but this study offers a fascinating new insight into another factor that could help achieve weight loss.
Andersson conducted a follow-up analysis on a survey of 9,335 people aged 18 to 65, who were asked a series of questions, including if they had a desire to lose, maintain or increase their weight.
The participants were tracked for one year and asked to self-report social networking changes and body mass index (BMI) outcomes.
The respondents also identified the four adults with whom they spent their free time with the most. This could have been family, friends or work colleagues.
Andersson found that weight differences became more substantial among participants who had hundreds, or even thousands of interactions over the course of a year.
People trying to lose weight were more likely to possess social ties with heavier individuals, while lessening their interactions and decreasing their likelihood of ties with thinner individuals.
Andersson believes this could be because people looking to lose weight feel more comfortable around people with a similar BMI. But this could actually impede their weight loss success.
“An important mismatch was demonstrated between the social contacts created by individuals desiring weight loss and the contextual factors possibly useful for weight loss. This may help to explain why weight loss is often unsuccessful,” Andersson said.
In future research, Baylor University plans to investigate the nature of the individuals and their associations with other people.
“It would be useful to have a more complete view of the individuals. Maybe someone has a certain personality type and wants to lose weight all the time, while another person might be trying to lose weight for a special occasion like a wedding,” Andersson concluded.
The study was published in the journal Obesity.

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