People more likely to eat unhealthily in the presence of overweight friends says study

The size of the people we eat with can affect our decisions in terms of healthy eating, according to a new American study.
Researchers at Southern Illinois and Cornell universities aimed to find out whether they could influence participants’ choices of food by letting them observe people of higher or lower weight serve themselves food of differing nutritional value and portion sizes, and then letting them loose to serve themselves food.
They did this by hiring an actress to wear a fat suit and then serve herself salad or pasta. The participants were left to observe her and then asked to help themselves to food.
The process was then repeated with the actress not wearing the fat suit, so she appeared thinner.
The researchers were able to judge ‘health goal commitment’ by what and how much the participants chose to eat.
In the case where the actress was wearing the body prosthesis to make herself look larger, the participants had a lower health commitment, choosing higher portions of unhealthy foods or smaller portions of healthier food.
When the actress was not wearing the fat suit, the participants were more likely to do the opposite and choose large portions of salad or smaller portions of a less healthy option, showing a higher health goal commitment.
This indicates just how much having overweight friends can influence us to break our diets and eat unhealthily.
This study comes on the heels of another one which found that people with a higher percentage of overweight friends were far less likely to be able to tell whether a person was overweight or obese, further showing how the rising tide of obesity is causing a ‘fat blindness’ which can only add to the obesity epidemic.

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