It’s no secret that obesity is continuing problem in America and it turns out your neighbors could be a bad influence on you when it comes to weight. A new study out of the University of Southern California suggests that people are more likely to be overweight if they live in counties with overweight people, meaning obesity could be contagious.
The study looked at 1,519 families from 38 military bases around the U.S., since military bases cause diverse people to live in a close community. The families all contained at least one parent and one child, aged 12 or 13. After comparing average BMI levels around the country they found BMIs were higher if families were assigned to a base with overall high obesity levels.
And the study shows the longer people are around other obese people, the greater the chance they too will have a high BMI. In fact, teens who lived on these type of military bases for more than two years had a higher obesity rate than teens who never lived there.
As for why, researchers suggest that social networks, like communities, can have a strong influence on people’s health habits, suggesting a need whole communities in order to fight the growing obesity problem in America. Of course, the study isn’t foolproof. The researchers admit that living near someone doesn’t necessarily mean they are part of your social network, plus there wasn’t any way to know the BMIs of the families before they got to the new military base, as well as the BMIs for the base they came from.
Source: Los Angeles Times