Friday, 17 Jul, 2009 Science
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Obese Youngsters Have Obese Friends, Study Claims

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Obese young people are more likely to have overweight friends - at least that is what researchers at the Institute of Prevention Research at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) claim after carrying out their study.

The team of researchers, led by Thomas Valente, Ph.D., professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine, was stunned to discover how strong was the connection between obesity and social networks, despite the fact that such link was somewhat anticipated, being found by earlier studies. But in the current study researchers took advantage of more sophisticated statistical modeling methods.

"The findings certainly raise health concerns because when kids start associating only with others who have a similar weight status it can reinforce the negative behaviors that cause obesity," says Valente.

The study involved the analysis of 617 students aged between 11 and 13, all of them living in the Los Angeles area. Besides noticing that most obese students had overweight friends, researchers noticed that obese girls named more friends, but were less likely to be named friends compared to girls with normal body weight index. You can find more news on obesity here at www.infoniac.com - click on the links below this story.

According to Valente, in most cases researchers pay more attention to health problems linked with obesity, but they should also understand and focus on the social cost for overweight young people. The social outcomes of obesity should also be taken into consideration by parents and teachers, says the researcher.

Valente mentioned that there is a need of more longitudinal researches for more recommendations on the link between obesity and social status in a social environment. The research was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

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