Friday, July 27, 2007

Why Can't We Be Friends?

A recent study in the New England Journal of medicine implicated a gene called FTO (Fatso) in increased risk of obesity. If you had one copy, then you had a 33% increased risk of being obese. 2 copies? 67% increased risk. On average people with FTO weighed 7 pounds more.

It is true that we know of some increased risk due to genetics. However, a study published this week in the NEJM suggests perhaps your friends may play a larger role than your genes.

In this study, if you listed someone as your friend, and your friend became obese during the time they were studied, then your risk of becoming obese would be 171%. Much greater than the risk of carrying 2 copies of FTO.

What about the 6 degrees of separation effect? Wht if it was a friend of a friend? Well they found that the increased risk was less than that of FTO's effect. However, there still was increased risk.

The Sherpa Says: This study was performed on the famed Framingham Heart Study offspring. They attempted to control environment by evaluating neighbors. It does turn out that there is no relation between neighbors and obesity.....Unless they are friends...This tells us that social networking is an indicator of risk of disease. Intuitively this makes sense. Smokers hang together, as do illicit drug users, and perhaps as this study shows over-eaters. Why can't we be friends? Because you are fat.

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