Professor Kylie Ball of Deakin’s Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, looked at data from more than 3500 women across Victoria. She noted that those “who knew, or saw lots of other women exercising, or eating healthily, tended to be more physically active and eat well themselves, compared with women who didn’t see lots of others engaging in these behaviours.”
She reasoned these findings had two logical explanations:
- that ‘like attracts like’ (i.e. we gravitate towards those who share similar values or behaviours to our own.
- that health-promoting behaviours may (in a sense) be ‘contagious’ (i.e. when you witness those around you adopting healthy habits, you take these to be the norm.
This idea that behaviour – good or bad - can be catching has been previously backed by science. One study out of the New England Journal of Medicine found that if a person’s friend became obese, their chances of becoming obese increased by up to 57 per cent. Similarly, if their sibling or spouse became obese their chances rose by around 40 per cent.
“The public needs to know that it’s very important to get your friends and family on board when making a lifestyle change,” Amy Wachholz, a medical psychiatrist with the Duke Diet and Fitness centre told ABC News. “You are more likely to be successful if you have friend and family members to support you.”
But hey, if none of your mates are onboard with #cleaneating, at least you’ve got someone to enjoy those Tim Tams with.