Thursday, August 02, 2007

Are Your Friends Making You Fat?

A recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that people were most likely to become obese if a friend has become obese. The study is upsetting many people in that it gives the idea that a person's weight will be dictated by the weight of their friends. Should we only have skinny friends? Is this just another way obese people will be discriminated against?

Having friends of all shapes and sizes is healthy, natural and should be encouraged. Each year millions of Americans are diagnosed with depression. Many seek out the assistance of antidepressant medication, but it is becoming increasingly common for people to look for non-pharmacologic help for fighting depression. Recent studies have found that exercising in groups in may be the most effective aid in fighting depression. This should be seen as an antidote to the possibly destructive side-effect of New England Journal of Medicine study.

Researcher James Blumenthal of Duke University completed a study that found that exercise, when performed in a group setting, seems to be as effective as standard antidepressant medications in reducing symptoms in patients with major depression. His study found that 10 months of regular, moderate exercise reduced depressive symptoms at a rate equal to that of medication. Exercise combined with contact with others -- friends, family, clubs and group activities -- can boost mood and help ease depression.

Dr. Nadia Marsh, an expert in treating depression and chief of the division of geriatrics at Cabrini Medical Center, in New York City said that people who exercise tend to feel that they have more control over their life. Because helplessness is a key ingredient in depression, anything that allows a person to regain a sense of control and balance can help alleviate the feelings of depression.

There are unlimited benefits of exercise, particularly in a group setting, in fighting depression. I think that people should focus on fighting obesity WITH their friends. As the saying goes, the more the merrier. Can't this be true in fighting the battle of the bulge as well?

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