It’s not what you eat. It’s who you eat with.

Friends, family play a big role in our health

french friesContributed by Ann Stone, ANP

For years, scientists and doctors have studied the impact our friends and family have on our health. And their findings are unanimous: both play a large role in regard to waistlines, heart health and many other aspects of our health.

Really, this isn’t surprising information. I’m always talking to women who are struggling with their weight. They just can’t seem to keep the weight off or stay dedicated to a healthy meal plan or exercise regimen. I always tell them the same thing: surround yourself with people who love and support you. If you’re constantly hanging out with family members who’d rather surf the channels than take a walk in the park, or friends who order appetizers, dinner, drinks and desserts without a second thought, you’re much more likely to fall short of your health goals. Consider the research:

  • study from the American Heart Association found that people who tackled their weight problems together lost an average of six and one half pounds more than those who went it alone. Waistlines weren’t the only beneficiary of the group plan: those working with a support system in place also lowered their blood pressure.
  • Researchers examined the impact of friends on losing weight among high schoolers and found that overweight students who spent time with lean friends had a 40 percent chance of losing weight compared to a 27 percent chance of adding pounds on. On the flipside, borderline obese students who had obese friends had a 56 percent chance that they would gain weight that year.

I’m not telling you to never speak to your friends again or to separate yourself from your family. If you have friends or family who just aren’t interested in the same healthy goals you have, try talking with them. Let them know why it’s important to you and what they can do to help. If they truly love and respect you, they’ll do whatever they can to help you succeed. Maybe you’ll wind up with a walking partner after all!

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