Eating With Overweight People Is Making You Fatter, Too

eating with overweight

Can friends, particularly the fuller-figured ones, be a bad influence when it comes to food?

The answer is "yes," according to scientists at Southern Illinois and Cornell Universities who hired an actress in a fat suit to test their theory that overweight friends can cause you to make unhealthy choices. 

When the actress appeared heavier and served herself a portion of pasta versus salad, her companions did the same. When she chose to serve herself a hearty helping of salad, her fellow diners followed suit but opted for smaller servings. 

Researchers explained:

These results demonstrated that people may eat larger portions of unhealthy food and smaller portions of healthy food when eating with an overweight person, probably because the health commitment goal is less activated. 

Does what you eat have to do with the person you're dining with? Is it a subconscious form of peer pressure or good judgment amnesia?


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I have been in this situation many times and have fallen prey to unhealthy choices (and plenty of guilty pleasures) when out with larger dining buddies.

I had a friend who was what some might call overweight. I loved to visit her because not only was she good company, but she also knew all the best restaurants in her city.

She introduced me to all sorts of wonderful foods, not to mention tapas and mojitos. Yum! We've lost touch and (ay caramba!) do I miss her. She loved to eat and was comfortable with her appearance. She made no apologies. It was freeing. But I did gain weight on my visits.

Conversely, I once spent a weekend at a friend's beach house. One of her slim and fit roommates had just returned from a run and declared that she couldn't possibly eat an entire bagel herself and asked if someone could please share it with her? 

Huh? I looked down at my nearly devoured cinnamon-raisin bagel smothered in cream cheese and immediately felt super-full. 

Maybe I lack the will power to say "no thanks," but when presented with tempting treats and a willing partner in crime, I'll say yes nearly every time! Am I alone in this? 

Do you eat more or make unhealthy choices if an overweight dining companion does? 


Image © the food passionates/Corbis

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