Is obesity contagious?

I recently watched a TED talk on the spread of obesity, and have since read the paper. The results are amazing, here is a summary:

“A person’s chances of becoming obese increased by 57% (95% confidence interval [CI], 6 to 123) if he or she had a friend who became obese in a given interval. Among pairs of adult siblings, if one sibling became obese, the chance that the other would become obese increased by 40% (95% CI, 21 to 60). If one spouse became obese, the likelihood that the other spouse would become obese increased by 37% (95% CI, 7 to 73). These effects were not seen among neighbors in the immediate geographic location. Persons of the same sex had relatively greater influence on each other than those of the opposite sex. The spread of smoking cessation did not account for the spread of obesity in the network.”

I love the question posed, are you making your friends fat or are they making you fat?

There are some excellent visualisations in the this talk.

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