I was recently on a webinar concerning the obesity issue in a particular state where the facilitator shared some surprising statistics. The results of a study conducted by the University of California, San Diego, found that if one person in a relationship becomes obese, other people closely tied to them might become obese as well. Specifically:
- Among siblings – If one sibling becomes obese, the likelihood of the others becoming obeseincreases 40%.
- With a spouse – If one spouse becomes obese, the likelihood of the other becoming obeseincreases 37%.
- Among friends – If a friend becomes obese, the chance of other close friends becoming obese increases by 57%. (As published in Science Daily)
We haven’t thoroughly vetted this research but just hearing those numbers was surprising … but then again it makes sense. As you spend time with family and friends, you often make the same choices in regard to the way you spend your time and the kinds of food you eat. If your friendships are focused around activity, you’re likely to be leaner as a group. So, some important things to think about when we consider family activities or the friends in our kid’s lives are:
- Do we spend time together doing things that are active such as biking, taking walks, going on hikes, swimming, etc.? Or do we spend most of our time on the computer/tv?
- What eating habits are we establishing as a family?
- As parents, what examples are we setting for our kids in terms of lifestyle choices?
- When your kids ask to go “play” with their friends, in what kind of play are they engaging? Playing video games or making active choices?
- How are we involving our kids in activities (athletic teams, dance, etc.) that can help them form groups of friends that share healthy activities.
As I think back to my own childhood, some of my closest friends were on my swim team and in my dance classes. Now, as an adult, I train for half-marathons and triathlons. I always train with friends and those friends have become some of my very best friends. Great conversations tend to happen as you spend an hour out jogging (or walking) together. My friends and I have also become fast food snobs; we would rather have a great meal and good conversation at a local restaurant serving fresh food than going with a cheaper option. Or better yet, making healthy fare in our own homes! Yes, together we can motivate each other to live healthy, productive, active lives! We can teach this same lessons to our kids and their friends, giving them not only fun memories, but healthy ones as well.