Weight loss can be contagious - study


Posted at Feb 18 2012 02:55 PM | Updated as of Feb 18 2012 10:55 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Surrounding yourself with people with similar health goals can help you achieve them, a new study shows.

When clustered in competing teams with the same goal of losing weight, obese and overweight members who reported to have had considerable social influence, or “bonding” with their teammates, increased their odds of losing more weight by 20 percent. Individuals who lost more weight by the end of the study also tended to have been in the same team.

“This is the first study to show that in these team-based campaigns, who’s on your team really matters,” lead author Tricia Leahey, Ph.D. said. “Being surrounded by others with similar health goals all working to achieve the same thing may have really helped people with their weight loss efforts.”

The “contagious” peer mindset brought about by this set-up, Leahey said, helped team players to lose more weight by providing  “accountability, setting expectations of weight loss, and providing encouragement and support.”

“We’re all influenced by the people around us, so if we can harness this positive peer pressure and these positive social influences, we can create a social environment to help encourage additional weight loss,” she said.