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Study: Teen Friendships Influence Weight Loss

When it comes to children who need to lose weight, their friends may have more influence on the scale than you know.

A study of high school students found that students whose friends were heavier than them were more likely to put on some pounds.

Interestingly, students had a better chance to lose weight – or to gain weight at a slower pace – if their friends were leaner, according to a news release from the Loyola University Health System. The research, supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, was published in the journal PLoS ONE.

Additionally, the friends that a student hangs out with affects how active they are in sports.

“These results can help us develop better interventions to prevent obesity,” said lead researcher David Shoham, an assistant professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine & Epidemiology of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

So much influence do high school friends have?

Apparently, it depends.

In the study, teenagers who were “borderline overweight” had a 40 percent change of dropping their body mass index or a 27 percent increase chance of gaining weight when they hung out with students whose BMI was around 20, a healthy weight. However, if that same borderline student had obese friends – with an average BMI of 30 – they had a 56 percent chance of gaining weight and a 15 percent change of losing weight.

Researchers noted that the study’s data was collected more than 10 years ago when the rate of childhood obesity was much lower and before teens socialized on Facebook.

Source: Loyola University Health System news release

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