How Friends Make You Fat

Forget diet or genetics. You can now blame your paunch on your pals


Oliver Hardy and Stan Laurel circa the early 1930's.

Why were people so surprised when the New England Journal of Medicine reported that obesity is a contagion you catch from your friends? The line from Don Quixote, "Tell me thy company, and I'll tell thee what thou art," suggests that friends have long been what your mother called a "bad influence."

Or rather, a bad influenza. And it isn't just the "fat flu" you can catch from friends. Good friends enable all manner of bad habits, even when they're doing nothing at all. Around friends, we slip back into regional accents we've spent years trying to exorcise--redneck recidivism--or embroider our speech...

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