FINDINGS: A study of 12,067 people over a period of 32 years has found that social networks have a marked influence on weight gain. For example, if a person’s close friend becomes obese, that person’s chances of becoming obese increase 57 percent; for siblings, increase is 40 percent; and for spouses, increase is 37 percent.
BOSTON (ASRN.ORG)- Public health officials have been working hard to account for the dramatic rise in U.S. obesity rates. Many obvious factors, such as poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle, certainly contribute to the swelling statistics. However, these and other explanations tend to focus exclusively on how individuals’ choices and behaviors affect their own weight.
Now, researchers from Harvard Medical School and the University of California, San Diego have found that obesity is hardly a private matter. Reporting in the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers found that obesity spreads through social ties. When an individual gains weight, it dramatically increases the chances that their friends, siblings, and spouses will likewise gain weight. The closer two people are in a social network, the stronger the effect. Interestingly, geographical distance between persons in a social network appears to have no effect.
GENEVA (ASRN.ORG) - According to World Health Organization (WHO) obesity is a global problem. WHO defines "overweight" as a BMI equal to or more than 25, and "obesity" as a BMI equal to or more than 30. These cut-off points provide a benchmark for individual assessment, but there is evidence that risk of chronic disease in population increases progressively from a BMI of 21.
WHO's most recent statistics show that globally:
Approximately 1.6 billion adults (age 15+) are overweight.
At least 400 million adults are obese.
WHO further projects that by 2015, approximately 2.3 billion adults will be overweight and more than 700 million will be obese.
NEW YORK (ASRN.ORG) - While young women with anorexia have received considerable attention in recent years, overweight and obese girls has been virtually ignored. This is despite the fact that obesity poses equally serious health risks.
For girls recent studies show that obesity begins at an early age:
? Among 16 to 24-year-olds, twice as many young women as young men are seriously obese;
? Obesity has a direct link with social exclusion;
WESTBROOK, MAINE (ASRN.ORG) - A recent study indicates that physical inactivity and excess weight are costing Maine's economy a conservatively estimated $2.56 billion each year.
"Our lifestyle is taking a tremendous toll on our health and economic well-being in Maine," said a spokesman. "We knew intuitively that a less active life coupled with weight gain can lead to health problems later in life but this study shows the problem is here and the impact is harming Maine's today."
STUDY EXPLAINS THE PHYSIOLOGIC BENEFITS OF DIET AND EXERCISE
BOSTON (ASRN.ORG)- One route to a long and healthy life may be establishing the right balance in insulin signaling between the brain and the rest of the body, according to new research from Children's Hospital Boston. The study, published in Science, not only reinforces the value of exercising and eating in moderation, but also helps explain a paradox in longevity research.
In This Issue
Liz Di Bernardo