In a groundbreaking study, researchers at Harvard Medical School used social networking techniques to track the spread of obesity. They found that even though obesity is a non-communicable disease, risks for becoming obese could nearly triple in some instances, solely based on relationships one has with obese people. Having an obese brother or spouse makes you 37% more likely to become obese in the next 2-4 years; having an obese friend can make you up to 171% more likely for you to become obese yourself.
The Harvard researchers believe this is a causal relationship: that the obese friend causes you to become obese as well. If this is true, then those politicians in favor of “family values” or “friendship” may soon be in a conundrum – since such tendencies are likely to increase the spread of obesity.
Of course, other scientists note that correlation is not causation: it may be more likely that there are other environmental factors at play that merely correlated with social networks. If friends like McDonalds – then should we blame the friends for eating with us there or should we blame McDonalds for serving fattening food?