Fat Company Corrupts Good Diets?

The apostle Paul says that “bad company corrupts good morals” (I Corinthians 15:33). Not that I give a shit what the old misogynist says about anything, but, in this particular instance, Paul may actually have some science to back him up. It turns out, for example, that if you are trying to diet, being even in the mere proximity of people heavier than you can seriously weaken your resolve. Here’s a video that explains the phenomenon:

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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4 Responses to Fat Company Corrupts Good Diets?

  1. teo says:

    I think that the “brain practice” would have something to do with the mirror neurons, but I find it pretty reasonable without scientific background too.

    I come from Bulgaria and there my idea of a female obese person was someone who weights about or more than 70-80 kilos (155-176 pounds), whereas now in Germany that kind of weight is normal, not at all obese and I see how it becomes more and more normal to me too…
    Not just that it becomes normal for my ideas and understanding, but also no one would tell me, that I’m getting fat if I weight 70 kilos, whereas in Bulgaria all my friends would be worried about me and would make sure that I’ll watch my weight.

    PS. You have a very interesting place of the web, Santi 🙂

  2. Paradigm says:

    Interesting, but not necessarily correct. Sure you might eat more if someone next to you on a restaurant eats a lot. People do as their neighbors in many ways, that much social psychology has established. But does it affect our eating habits in the long run? Behavioral geneticist claim that two adopted siblings (genetically unrelated) will not correlate in body weight at all by the age of 15 when they become more independent.

    The reason obese people are surrounded by other obese people may be because they choose a certain company with common interests and lifestyles. I think cause and effect are confounded in the clip.

    This way of choosing our social environment is certainly true for children. Kids who are impulsive, a highly heritable trait, usually have friends who are impulsive. I think the same may be true with adults. In general people want to get along, and that is easier if you think and behave alike.

    But there is most likely some truth to both these theories. I suspect personality will be a major factor in determining exactly how strongly a person is influenced by their social environment.

    • santitafarella says:


      You raise the (legitimate) question of genetics. I suppose that Steven Pinker (for example) would tear my above post to shreds.

      And your response made me think of Randy Newman’s “short people” song for some reason. I haven’t heard it in a long time, and I’m curious whether the lyrics have any determinism in them (or whether it is a moral evaluation that Newman parodies).


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