Thin Friends Can Have Bad Diet Influence

friendsFriends can be your worst enemy when it comes to trying to keep control of your waistline. Even if they aren’t overtly using peer pressure to coax you into eating unhealthily, they can be doing so through their own actions.

Most of us know them: people who can eat and eat and not gain an ounce. That fraternity gets a little smaller after 30 when everyone’s metabolism begins to slow. But, while they still maintain this seemingly impossible dietary feat, they do so at the expense of the rest of us.

That’s because according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, thin friends who eat a lot may unwittingly make you eat more in the process. Call it subliminal peer pressure.

The researchers recruited 210 college students to participate in the study, and were told that they would be paired up with another student. The other student was actually a part of the research team and intentionally recruited for their thin frames (size 0, 105 pounds). Sometimes those thin research participants wore an “obesity prosthesis” to compare the reactions of their partners.

All of the students were offered snacks while viewing clips of movies. The undercover researcher was served first, and either got a large or small serving before the student participant was offered the same bowl of food. In every case, the amount of food that the students accepted was influenced by the amount that the undercover researcher chose.

Participants tended to mimic the thin companion’s portion sizes, but adjusted their portions down when they were paired with the obese-looking researcher.

The study was authored by researchers from the University of British Columbia, Duke University, and Arizona State University.

(via: Medical News Today)

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