Are you aware that our behaviour patterns very often reflect those of our friends? The theory is that we turn out to be very much like the individuals we hang around with. For the most part this is interpreted as we hold the same belief structure or values; we quite often support the same sports clubs and political parties as our friends, for instance.
However, it now seems that we also have weight challenges in common with those we associate with. The amount we eat is closely related to how much our best friends eat. An interesting study looking at how young people eat found that oversized children eat more when in the company of other oversized friends.
It appeared in fact that everyone in the study got through more food when with friends than with strangers. But it was when the heavier friends teamed up that the most calories were consumed. The research was featured in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It illustrated the part friends play in the actions of each other.
Certainly, it’s human nature to feel more secure in our actions when we’re amongst friends. We’re not so self-aware with people we like and know well. But there’s possibly more to it than that – we intuitively view friends as permission givers. We grant them the right to define acceptability – in this case in relation to food quantities.
Young people of all sizes were studied for forty five minutes. A number were teamed up with strangers, and a number with friends. Each pair had a mix of healthy and snack-type food, and entertainment.
The familiar couples put away more food than the unfamiliar ones. But overweight friends ate the most of all. Below is an illustration of what was consumed.
An average of seven hundred and thirty eight calories was eaten by overweight teens who paired with a friend. But the overweight youngsters with slimmer friends ate nearly three hundred calories less. The slimmer ones ate a fairly stable five hundred calories whatever the size of their friends. This ties in with the commonly held view that in early teens many kids’ decisions to smoke or drink alcohol are strongly influenced by what their friends do.
A child’s social network then is significant in determining their eating habits. What this means is kids can be influenced to eat less as well as more. Hence the necessity to educate the young.
(C) Scott Edwards. Try WeightLossDietWar.com for superb diet advice on slimming tea and weight loss management.