Obesity is socially contagious, claims a new study


Obesity is on the rise in the UK.
Obesity is on the rise in the UK.

A person is more likely to be obese if he is surrounded by obese people, a new study has found.

The study, conducted by the University of South California, examined 3140 military families and found that obesity was socially contagious, as families sent to counties with higher obesity rates were likely to be overweight than those placed in areas with lower obesity rates.

“We were somewhat surprised,” explained Dr Ashlesha Datar.

“Traditionally we think the built environment is what matters, or that people choose environments for a healthy lifestyle. But the findings show there’s still a strong relationship to the community.”

In the UK, obesity continues to be a serious issue. Just last year Britain emerged as the most obese nation in Western Europe in a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. In the past two decades obesity rates have doubled, with 63 percent of UK adults being overweight, and they posed a higher risk of getting chronic illnesses such as hypertension, cholesterol, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases.

Sadly, obesity among children continue to rise in the UK.

Early this week, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Child Health revealed in a report that a significant number of children are being doomed to an early death due to their unhealthy lifestyles. According to the report, four in five obese school pupils will remain overweight throughout their life.

Stringent measures should be undertaken to reduce Britain’s consumption of junk food, and policies should be in place to prevent fast food joints from opening near schools, the report noted.

“It is no good only throwing money at treating established problems. There must be far better investment in prevention, which will reap immeasurable long term benefits,” said Professor Neena Modi, president of the RCPCH, reports noted.