One reason I like longitudinal studies [long term/same people] is that researchers can mine the data and find much over the years…even when it wasn’t the original idea of the study.
The Framingham study is one such a research project. This project followed people in Framingham, Mass for decades beginning in 1948 as the Framingham Heart Study. The health and social data collected is still being analyzed today.
One of the very recent findings, published in the New England Journal of Medicine is based on the large social networks of many the persons who have been part of the study for decades.
Social and weight data from 1971 to 2003 was analyzed by Harvard researchers who found that you are more likely to become obese if your friends are obese. As one who heard “birds of a feather flock together” from my mother [when she did not like what my friends were doing] this is not a surprise.
The question was raised as to whether we’d lose weight or be thin if we hung around with skinnier people…the researchers said yes – but they found on the average that most people were gaining as they aged. some think this is inevitable but I do not. I still think it is a myth – we gain if we do not change our eating to stay in balance with our metabolism – and that changes as we age…
You can be lean at any point in your lifespan…but I guess not if you hang around with obese people.
Next question? If you choose to get leaner – will that affect your best friend’s weight? I think yes…but you have to do your thing and not get caught up in theirs..and we are social creatures…