Blame Your Friends For Making You Fat

Fat is contagious!

New research has come out that shows that the people you associate with have a big impact on your own body weight and fitness levels, as much as 40-70% percent.

This isn’t a case of people just associating with people who are similar to themselves – the study focused on Air Force academy undergrads who are randomly assigned to live with a group of 30 other people.

Interestingly the study found:

…that the peer effects work largely through exposure to the least fit peers, and the students most affected are those at the lower end of the fitness distribution. This asymmetry in the nature of the peer effects suggests that individuals appear to either compare their own fitness to the least fit among them, or adopt the diet and exercise of the least fit.

So, if you want to have the greatest effect on improving a group’s overall fitness levels, focus on improving the least fit first.

Is Poor Fitness Contagious? Evidence from Randomly Assigned Friends [The National Bureau of Economic Research]
Your Friends Are Making You Fat and Lazy [Economix]


Edit Your Comment

  1. 333 (only half evil) says:

    I knew it wasn’t my fault.

  2. Quake 'n' Shake says:

    So we were correct in picking on the fat kid in grade school. Yes!

  3. Daverson says:

    Yeah, like this hasn’t been covered here before.

  4. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Wasn’t there also a study that showed that people at a restaurant with friends base their ordering on what other people are getting? So if most people are ordering healthier options, it might be because they’re quietly basing their decisions on how others are behaving and they don’t want to look bad in comparison.

    • AstroPig7 says:

      My dad refuses to order the same thing as anyone else at the table, even if it’s something he wanted. I’ve never understood why, even though I sometimes do the same thing.

      • I wumbo. You wumbo. He- she- me... wumbo. Wumbo; Wumboing; We'll have thee wumbo; Wumborama; Wumbology; the study of Wumbo. says:

        For me, I never order what my boyfriend orders just so I can munch off his food…. just a bit!

  5. qwickone says:

    I guess this fits in with the “sure I’m kinda fat, but at least I’m not as fat as (fat friend’s name)!” mentality. Then you keep eating junk food.

  6. Bort says:

    If you fire the bottom 10% you’ll still have a bottom 10%

    • SecretShopper: pours out a lil' liquor for the homies Wasp & Otter says:

      yes but its a skinnier, and thus more attractive bottomed 10%

      • somedaysomehow says:

        Skinny does not equal attractive.

        • Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

          “Skinny does not equal attractive.”

          Very true. Obese is unattractive, yea, but skinny can be downright ugly.

          Making love with a too skinny woman is like doing it with a stick figure.

        • SecretShopper: pours out a lil' liquor for the homies Wasp & Otter says:

          I was just talking about the bottoms not the overall person

        • DoktorGoku says:

          Correct, and obese is generally viewed as unattractive. Your point?

  7. RickinStHelen says:

    Can’t, I’m still in denial. Now pardon me as I go try on my Speedo for that beach vacation in Florida.

    • The Porkchop Express says:

      so you’re one of them? damn you people I can’t even take the kids to the beach any more they know that fat guy isn’t hiding a sweet potato

  8. evnmorlo says:

    Still don’t think this study works, since at the Air Force academy they are forced to do drills, so naturally most people will cluster at the lowest level possible. The group will then probably ridicule overachievers until they conform.

  9. rpm773 says:

    So, if you want to have the greatest effect on improving a group’s overall fitness levels, focus on improving the least fit first

    You! Fat guy! Drop and give me 50 push-ups.

    The rest of you, stand around and watch your extra pounds just melt off.

  10. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    Finally, proof that nothing is my fault. I have no more responsibility.

  11. SimplyStating says:

    This would go back to the bar days… Where there is always the one that is the nice looking one and they hang with that makes them look better.. This is not new news lol..

    • SimplyStating says:

      Edit button fail… “Where there is always the one that is the nice looking one and they hang with that makes them look better..” What I had meant to say was.. Where there is always the one that is the nice looking one and the one that they hang with that makes them look better.

  12. FrugalFreak says:

    Put graphic warning labels on food to, it is raising insurance premiums.

  13. CrankyOwl says:

    As I’m reading this, my “friend” is putting chocolate muffins out in the cube next to mine. Now I can blame her for my fat a**.

  14. zegota says:

    Was there a reason for reviving this topic, since you’ve already covered it multiple times? Furthermore, what exactly does this have to do with consumerism anyway?

  15. Amy Alkon says:

    Have a girlfriend who encourages you to go on a low-carb diet and eat lots of bacon, and (contrary to the utterly non-evidence based information of the government), you’ll drop pounds like they’re stones falling off a truck, and have much healthier body stats, to boot.

  16. milkcake says:

    The way i see, get a control of yourself. Nobody is stuffing it down your throat. I’m skinny and I need to be on a fat consuming diet and my wife is complaining so much for it because she keeps on eating what I eat.

  17. Etoiles says:

    I blame my husband. It’s absolutely ridiculous how many fewer calories women get to eat than men, and I’m a slow-metabolism, trouble-burning-calories woman to boot, while he’s a tiny slender thing. It’s at least a 1000 calorie difference and it drives me crazy that he can have a steak or bread or whatever and I should in theory be eating my 900th vegetable of the day.

  18. Sword_Chucks says:

    Blame everything//everyone but yourself. So long personal responsibility, your disease took root in 1992 and you’ve been getting frail ever since, it is only a matter of time until we put you 6ft under. You will be missed, by some, and already forgotten by most.

  19. Bernardo says:

    I dont keep fat friends. It sounds wrong, to some people it is wrong, but I dont care. I do this because I believe that you are who you hang with and I dont want to be around people who will be a negitive influence on me. So no fatties, drug addicts, lazy people and so on. Plus I have a tiny NYC apartment. They wouldnt fit inside any way. That and they wouldnt make it up the six flights to get there. Nothing grosser than hearing one of them wheezing for breath and watching em sweat after something thats really not that hard..

    • somedaysomehow says:

      Wrong. Nothing is grosser than fatphobia.

      • TacomaRogue says:

        +eleveny million to you!

        This fatphobia/ hate is uncalled for. Fat DOES NOT equal ugly/ unhealthy/ lazy just as thin DOES NOT equal attractive/ heathy/ active. Placing blame and shame on fat people does nothing other than perpetuate a cycle of body hate and low self esteem. Constant dieting/ weight cycling is more dangerous than maintaining a steady, heavy weight. The diet industry is a $60billion/ year industry that practices shady science and questionable reporting practices. People need to stop blindly following the fear mongers.

        • AstroPig7 says:

          Actually, fat equals unhealthy by definition.

          • LadyTL says:


            fat (ft)
            a. The ester of glycerol and one, two, or three fatty acids.
            b. Any of various soft, solid, or semisolid organic compounds constituting the esters of glycerol and fatty acids and their associated organic groups.
            c. A mixture of such compounds occurring widely in organic tissue, especially in the adipose tissue of animals and in the seeds, nuts, and fruits of plants.
            d. Animal tissue containing such substances.
            e. A solidified animal or vegetable oil.
            2. Obesity; corpulence.
            3. The best or richest part: living off the fat of the land.
            4. Unnecessary excess:

            • The Porkchop Express says:

              2 and 4 kind of say it, does that count?

            • AstroPig7 says:

              You’re only looking at the definition of the noun. Look at the definition of the adjective and you’ll find the following: “In unfavourable sense: overcharged with fat, corpulent, obese.” Obesity is unhealthy by definition, as is an abundance of fat. In fact, the definition you provided included obesity, so I can only guess you missed it.

              • LadyTL says:

                Obesity does not immediately mean unhealthy. Obesity is not even found through a viable method as the BMI has multiple things that are wrong with it from a medical perspective. Also if you mean the adjective, use that instead of the noun.

                • AstroPig7 says:

                  I agree that the BMI is useless for individual analysis, but it still has a place for population analysis. Also, obesity is not just a strict medical definition. There are scores of studies that show links between heart disease and other maladies as a result of excessive weight. Sometimes the ultimate cause is poor diet, but excessive weight alone puts a significant strain on the human body. Some people have a build that can handle this strain, but they are the exception. Other conditions that are caused by or worsened by being overweight are asthma and diabetes. How can any of these conditions be considered healthy?

                  • obits3 says:

                    “excessive weight alone puts a significant strain on the human body”

                    That’s something I wonder about too. I just put new Shocks on my truck. It’s a F150 SuperCrew, so the weight of the truck puts a lot of stress on the various supporting parts. I would think that similar wear would occur on the human body.

        • obits3 says:

          “maintaining a steady, heavy weight”

          That’s the problem. Not all heavy weights are healthy. My Dad maintained a “steady, heavy weight” of 270lbs for years, but then he died at 55. If you are a little over weight, that’s cool, but if you are more than 30lbs over weight, then that just might kill you.

        • Roloboto says:

          Yes it does.

      • Bernardo says:

        Fatfobia? Are you serious? Your lumping fat people together with spiders and heights? I dont get nervous when one of you people walk by me, or hurry and finish my lunch or dinner when one of you enters the restraunt. Although to be honest i do get a little nervous when one of you is ahead of me on the line of my fave cupcake place. But I think its thats justifiable.

        • NebraskaDan says:

          Haha, you’re tiny, aren’t you? Napoleon Complex unleashed! I’d rather be big then have to make myself feel better by ripping people who never did anything to you.

    • Gravitational Eddy says:

      I hate to have to be the one to tell you this but, we’ve decided we don’t want you to come around here anymore. Don’t get me wrong; we like you, but others are starting to say things, and well, you know, we just feel it would be better for all of us if you didn’t come by anymore.
      I hope you understand, and I hope we can still be friends.

    • Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

      I like fat people. They’re delicious.

    • obits3 says:

      While I think that you should be a little more careful with your words, I will say that I have a pet peeve:

      Heavier people tend to put their body weight on my car door windows when they get in and out. Also, due to the increased size, they tend to move around in a more clumsy fashion when in the car (leading to increase risk of breaking things). The problem is that fat usually means “out of shape.” I can get in my car by stepping in, but out of shape people tend to lean on things.

    • varro says:

      I don’t tolerate douchebags like you. That is all.

  20. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    This is silly. Everybody knows obesity is a disease that is the result of a “gland problem”

    Yes. That gland is your stomach – stop stuffing food in it, put down the damn twinkie, and step away from the f*cking buffet!

    • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

      Um…could you pass the pliers, please. This damn hook is sooo stubborn…

    • Genuineduck says:

      Seems like half of the comments are from you hating on fat people. Have an upsetting experience or something, little boy?

      • Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

        I also “HATE ON” skinny people too. I am an equal oppotunity hater.

        “hate on?” what kind of talk is that? Not even proper English.

  21. Macgyver says:

    It’s nobody’s fault but your own. You control what you eat, no one else does.

    • Megalomania says:

      This is not saying that being around fat people makes others fat, but that people change their decisions based on those around them without realizing it. You can’t shift the blame, but you can start thinking more about your decisions and why you are making them.

    • obits3 says:

      Makes me think of this:

  22. Outrun1986 says:

    As far as keeping fat friends it depends, is the fat person miserable and constantly dragging you to eat out? If you eat and cook at home normally this could be a problem, and could cause you to gain weight if your friends are dragging you to eat out when you really don’t want to. If your friends are eating larger portions than you, you may also be tempted to order a larger portion when going out and be even more tempted to stuff it all in, this could result in weight gain. You may not want to keep friends around who are miserable (regardless of weight), that is probably not very good for you.

    Or is the person fat, but doesn’t drag you to eat out, has a good personality, and perhaps is trying to do something about their weight? In this case you probably want to keep them as a friend.

    You have to look at the behaviors of the person, a skinny person who drinks a lot and eats a lot could have the same effect on you as a fat person who is also doing the same, if you are constantly being dragged to eat out and drink at bars if that is something you don’t want to do.

  23. dolemite says:

    Impossible! I’ve put on 30 lbs and I don’t have any friends!

  24. SecretShopper: pours out a lil' liquor for the homies Wasp & Otter says:

    when I was in college my group of friends was pretty active and we were all on the skinnier side except for the one fat guy. during the summer break between soph, and jr. year we got back to school and he had dropped like 30lbs, his response when we asked him why “because i got tired of being the fat dude around you skinny m*****f*****s”

  25. Hoss says:

    I think this is right. All my friends from the pub have the bodytype

  26. RogueWarrior65 says:

    This kind of bullsh*t only serves to prove that treating overweight people like dirt is the LAST universally accepted form of discrimination and prejudice. SHAME ON YOU ALL!!!

  27. corridor7f says:

    I dunno – I tend not to eat socially when I hang out with friends, but I do drink a lot. Damn those liquid calories!