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Overweight friends eat more together

Eating out with friends is always fun. However, after reading this study you may choose more carefully which friends you eat out with!

A new study shows that overweight friends eat more when they dine out together.

It shows how much we can be influenced by our friends, even as to how much we eat!

The snack study

The researchers wanted to find out whether a group of youths would adjust how much they ate depending on who they were eating with.

What they did …

The researchers took 23 overweight and 42 healthy weight youths aged 9 to 15 years old. They spent 45 minutes with either a friend or person of similar age that they didn’t know. Each pair was given games, puzzles and books as well as bowls of chips, cookies, carrots and grapes.

Now this is where the study gets interesting! :)

The results

The researchers found:

  • Pairs of friends ate more calories than did pairs who did not know each other.
  • Overweight friends ate the most.
  • Overweight friends ate on average 738 calories together, compared to 444 calories when an overweight child was paired with normal-weight friend.
  • Normal-weight friends ate an average of 500 calories when paired with a friend, regardless of the friend’s weight.

What the researchers concluded

The friends ate more together partly because people are more self-conscious around strangers, and partly because friends act as “permission-givers.” Lead researcher Dr Salvy said, “They (friends) set the norm for what is appropriate to do, or in this case eat.”

Dr Salvy noted that research in adults has shown the same effect for “social influence” by friends on body weight.

The good news!

The up side is that if one child makes healthy changes it may end up influencing his or her friends as well. Dr Salvy is keen to see there is in fact such a positive “contagion effect” on friends’ eating habits.

The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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About Kellie

Kellie is 37 years old and together with her brother Steve makes up the My Health Software team.

She helps on the websites and gathering news for the programs. Kellie worked in the medical industry prior to having her two children (8 and 6) and has a strong interest in self awareness and management of health conditions.


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