Friday, July 27, 2007

Network Medicine: Medicine To Treat Dysfunctional Groups

Fat people have fat friends. Even if they live far, far away, their friends are fat, too. The doctors theorize that the fat people have the same ideas about health. My guess, is that they have the same kind of emotional states. That is, they're bonded because they have similar personalities, endured the same kind of stresses and experiences, and they react in the same way--that could included eating carbs to self-medicate:

After an exhaustive study of the individuals' relationships - including friends, family and neighbors - the investigators found that a person's chances of becoming obese increased 40 percent if he or she had a sibling who became obese and 37 percent if they had a spouse who became obese.

Most surprising though, was the risk of obesity among unrelated friends. The study showed that if the friendship was casual, a person's risk of becoming obese increased by 57 percent if the friend became obese. If the relationship was strong and the two people claimed each other as friends, then if one became obese, the friend's risk of obesity jumped by 170 percent.

I'm not sure the germ model of disease fits, here, but some are trying to hornswaggle it in that way:
Observers say this is the first time it appears that groups of people have infected one another with a non-infectious disease, and they predict the study may lead to a new field called network medicine.
And how will they treat fat people across the miles? Maybe technology will help.

This also calls into question the benefit of fat farms. Perhaps the peer pressure to eat to cope outweighs the benefit of being treated together. Unlike drugs which are taboo in rehab, people still have to eat at in-patient treatment centers. They might have a more difficult time surrounded by friends who are fat, too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Or turn this data into "IT'S NOT MY FAULT I'M FAT!" (munch, munch, munch) "IT'S THE COLLECTIVE!" (munch, munch, munch) "I'M A VICTIM! THEY'RE THE ONES WHO *HAVE* TO CHANGE!" (munch, munch, munch, nom, nom, nom)