Is Obesity Contagious?

I know, I know… the headline wreaks of clickbait, but here’s some quick data to legitimize this post:

  1. According to the CDC, the prevalence of obesity in the US was 42.4% in 2017-2018, up from 30.5% in 1999-2000. Find more data here.
  2. Obese adults are 3-7x more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than normal weight adults.
  3. According to the American Diabetes Association, people with diagnosed diabetes incur average medical expenditures of $16,752 per year, of which about $9,601 is attributed to diabetes. On average, people with diagnosed diabetes have medical expenditures approximately 2.3 times higher than what expenditures would be in the absence of diabetes. Read more here.
  4. Harvard researchers demonstrated that having an obese friend increases your risk of obesity by 57%. Similar correlations were observed with those who have obese family members. Read the study here.

You already knew that a large percentage of Americans are obese and obesity presents significantly greater risk for chronic disease. We’ve recently learned that obesity presents significantly greater risk for acute disease, like COVID-19, as well. Obese individuals with COVID-19 are 4-6x more likely to be hospitalized than non-obese individuals (tomorrow’s post will discuss this in more depth – read more here).

You may be surprised, like I was, at the last stat listed above. Does our social circle have that much influence on my body composition? Apparently so. Does that mean, if I’m trying to lose weight, I should dump all of my overweight friends and family members? Absolutely not. Then what can I do?

Take a minute to think…

Who are the five closest people to you? 

Are they a positive or negative influence on your life? 

If you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, do you like the person you are or will become? 

3 Things To Consider:

1. Be Intentional With Your Sphere

Do your core values align with the five people closest to you?

Do the five people closest to you know your goals — personal and professional? Do they support your progress towards your goals? 

If you set a goal to exercise three times per week, would your social circle encourage you to get moving or give you a hard time for taking time away from them? 

To be successful long-term, you need to be intentional with the people you surround yourself with. You need people who will support your progress towards your goals. Like I said before, this doesn’t mean that you should dump your friends or family members. But if you can’t be the positive change within your social circle, you may need help from outside that circle.

2. Separate Yourself From Negativity

Misery loves company. When you surround yourself with negative people, you will be more negative. 

On the other hand, if you surround yourself with positive people, you will be more positive. 

What topics do you discuss with your circle? Are you lifting people up or talking about people behind their backs? Are you encouraging each other or breaking each other down?

In a season of chaos and uncertainty, like this pandemic, it’s easy to get frustrated. You must be intentional with your positivity. Find things to be grateful for. Part of your daily routine should be finding something that you are grateful for. Positivity breeds positivity. 

3. Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone

When we opened 1HUNDRED Fitness, we never wanted people to feel scared or intimidated by their first class. But, if I’m being honest, taking that first step can be uncomfortable. We’re afraid of the unknown, whether that be new places, new people, or the boogeyman (I’ve never met the guy – he might be pleasant).

We start all new members with three personal training sessions to ensure competence and safety, but these sessions are also intended to ease into what might otherwise be an uncomfortable situation. 

Our gym is filled with people who care about their health and fitness. Everyone in the gym has made a significant investment to become the best versions of themselves. Maybe our gym isn’t for you. No problem. But if you want to make a change, you have to try something new. You have to step outside your comfort zone to grow!

Is obesity contagious? Sort of… but in the same way that fitness is contagious.

The same study that observed the correlation between your social circle and your body composition noted that your social circle can also be used to spread positive health behaviors.

What are you going to spread?



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