Don't Make Friends With Fat People...They're Contagious!

A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that Americans should be wary of yet another public health contagion—obesity:

Obesity can spread from one person to another like the flu or a fad, researchers reported today in a first-of-its-kind study that helps explain -- and could help fight -- one of the nation's biggest public health problems.

The study, involving more than 12,000 people tracked over 32 years, found that "social networks" play a surprisingly powerful role in determining an individual's chances of gaining weight, transmitting an increased risk of becoming obese from wives to husbands, from brothers to brothers and from friends to friends.

...

The risk rose even more sharply among friends -- between 57 and 171 percent, depending on whether they considered each other mutual friends. Moreover, friends affected friends' risk even when they lived far apart, and the influence cascaded through three degrees of separation before petering out, the researchers found.

...

"What spreads is an idea. As people around you gain weight, your attitudes about what constitutes an acceptable body size changes, and you might follow suit and emulate that body size," [Nicholas A. Christakis of Harvard Medical School, who led the study] said. [emphasis added]

"Why Marjorie, what lovely cankles you have! Pass the lasagna, would ya please?"

reason's smorgasbord of writings on obesity here and public health here.

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  • ||

    So if you have a bunch of skinny friends and one morbidly obese one, will his fat average out amongst the group?

  • Fluffy||

    I think that like many public health studies this is reversing the causation.

    Which is more likely:

    1. Making friends with a fat person will magically make you fat.

    2. Being fat drops you a couple of status cliques down in high school and college, and you end up sitting at the fat kids' table at lunch, and these early friendships end up setting the course of your future friendships.

  • Franklin Harris||

    I have just completed a 30-year study that finds conclusively that safety Nazis will say anything, no matter how absurd, to prove that their subjective eating preferences are healthy while others' preferences are not only unhealthy, but also immoral. They also have 87 percent less shame than the average person.

  • ||

    I think becoming a friends with a real life fat person just counters the propaganda that "obesity is destroying america" and that fat people are all just useless slobs. so then being fat becomes more acceptable. The same effect can account for a lot of what gets called "peer pressure" in drug use.

  • ||

    So...it can pass like a fad, but not like the flu?

    I've known people who were fat from food allergies (the body takes the allergen, wraps it in fat, and sticks it in cells to avoid irritating the digestive system), weird uterine problems that sound unpleasant enough on their own, and, yes, from being lazy gluttons. The idea that there is one cause for obesity is pernicious. In fact, Americans are addicted to finding the "one cause" of all kinds of stuff, eliminating that, and then wondering why things haven't changed.

  • ||

    Told you it was a disease. Neener-neener-neener.

  • Russ 2000||

    Why no studies on the stupidity epidemic?

  • ||

    This study seems pointless not because it's wrong, but because it's obvious. It's not surprising in the least that people tend to conform to standards set by their social groups.

  • ||

    There are some people in this society who are just disgusting. The health facists are among the worst. Am I the only one who has noticed the increased obnoxiousness of cyclists? I constantly see cyclists on busy streets holding up traffic, running lights, nearly running over pedestrians all seem to be a lot more common. As the health nazis get more militant, the cyclist seem to think that have a moral right to run people down. I really think the two are linked. "Living healthy" is becoming a moral choice and a sign of moral superiority and if we ever have government funded healthcare will be a matter of government coercion.

  • ||

    Obesity isn't a bug, it's a feature. It means you are rich enough to sit around consuming all day.

  • BABH||

    I've long wondered how an individual's bodyweight could be considered a matter of *public* health. This seems like a shameful attempt to pretend that the obesity "epidemic" is something more than a metaphor.

  • SIV||

    (the body takes the allergen, wraps it in fat, and sticks it in cells to avoid irritating the digestive system)

    I've never heard of this before. A quick search lead to "clinical ecology" so I was wondering does any legitimate medical science support allergens as a cause of obesity?

  • ||

    OK, the study shows that fat asses don't care when other fat asses rag on them. Oh boy, where can I buy a copy of that study?

  • ||

    This study seems pointless not because it's wrong, but because it's obvious. It's not surprising in the least that people tend to conform to standards set by their social groups.

    It doesn't seem to be obvious to all of the people who have and are going to comment that this study is retarded and thinner, fitter people are snobs and there's nothing unhealthy about being 300lbs overweight

  • semm||

    1) 'Prove' obesity is contagious
    2) Nationalize health care
    3) Criminalize unhealthy living

    How come this doesn't seem far fetched?

  • ||

    It is not Semm. Not at all

  • ||

    Warren wins the thread!

  • hmmmm||

    birds of a feather flock together. fat birds.

  • jimmydageek||

    John | July 26, 2007, 9:04am | #

    There are some people in this society who are just disgusting. The health facists are among the worst. Am I the only one who has noticed the increased obnoxiousness of cyclists? I constantly see cyclists on busy streets holding up traffic


    Fuck you, John. We have just as much right to the fucking road. I hope a cyclists runs into you while you're on a sidewalk and causes the bicycle to go right up your ass.

    Sincerely,

    jimmydageek

  • jimmydageek||

    And, as for cyclists disobeying the rules of the road, they deserve any injury that befalls them.

  • ||

    No, Reinmoose wins the thread.

    This study cannot be possibly be right, or useful, or honest. Because I don't want it to be and...uh...Nazis!!!!!!

  • ||

    So to cure all those models we just need to insert a couple of fat chicks in the dressing room then they will "catch" a couple of pounds so they can work in Spain again. Or is it Italy? Anyway, where ever they bannded the "too skinny" models.

  • Russ 2000||

    A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that Americans should be wary of yet another public health contagion-obesity

    It's nice to see the writers who were laid off from The Weekly World News could find jobs so quickly.

  • ||

    John and jimmydageek,

    Living and working in midtown Manhattan, the cyclists, mainly the bike messengers, are a constant source of amusement, what with their riding the wrong way in traffic, riding on the sidewalk, ignoring all traffic lights, yelling at motorists, yelling at pedestrians, etc. Some of the bike messengers have their own weird individual cries that they make to tell pedestrians to get out of the way, like "Whoop!" or "Aiiieeee!!!" or something.

  • x,y||

    From the AP: Seattle and Louisville to bus fat kids to skinny schools.

  • jimmydageek||

    mitch,

    I won't deny that there are a bunch of rude and inconsiderate cyclists around. However, John and his likes should know that cycling on the road is completely legal, and if it impedes on his commute then that's just too damn bad.

    As for the cycling conditions in New York, I can tell you that vehicle drivers use the bike lane as a passing / parking / driving lane. Maybe if cycling lanes were clear of vehicles the cyclists wouldn't be forced up on the sidewalks with pedestrians.

  • ||

    "Fuck you, John. We have just as much right to the fucking road. I hope a cyclists runs into you while you're on a sidewalk and causes the bicycle to go right up your ass."

    You may have as much right but you have no more right. Having a right to the road doesn't give you a right to put other people in danger or needless hold up taffic. You are still subject to the traffic laws. You have no more right to run through crosswalks or run red lights or not get over to let faster traffic pass on a bike than I have in my car or my motorcycle.

    I used to do a lot of cycling back in college. Cyclist used to be generally nice laid back people. In the 1990s something happened and new bread of assholes took over the sport. Thanks for giving a perfect example of what I am talking about.

  • ||

    "However, John and his likes should know that cycling on the road is completely legal, and if it impedes on his commute then that's just too damn bad."

    And if I should happen to run down one of the dumb bastards because they run a red light or cut in front of me, that is just too damn bad to. I honestly I can't say I would feel to bad about thining the gene pool in such a manner.

  • ||

    So, people who are close friends emulate one another in certain ways, and families tend to share body types and eating habits. Okay.

  • ||

    "Maybe if cycling lanes were clear of vehicles the cyclists wouldn't be forced up on the sidewalks with pedestrians."

    Maybe if cyclist would ride the things somewhere appropriate, they wouldn't have the problem either. In the Hill country of Texas cyclist are a menace. The ride these windy hilly roads right in the middle of the lane. People come over a hill doing an otherwise safe speed and here is some asshole in the middle of the lane chugging along at 10. People have been killed in accidents up there trying to avoid cyclists. But the cyclysts in Texas are totally unrepentent and make no effort to stay out of the way or avoid putting people and themselves in danger. You can try to defend that all you want, but it is just inexcusable.

  • ||

    And if I should happen to run down one of the dumb bastards because they run a red light or cut in front of me, that is just too damn bad to. I honestly I can't say I would feel to bad about thining the gene pool in such a manner...But the cyclysts in Texas are totally unrepentent

  • ||

    Remember how people laughted when the smokers said they were just the first target.Studies such as these prove the validatiy of the slippery slope theory.

  • jimmydageek||



    And if I should happen to run down one of the dumb bastards because they run a red light or cut in front of me, that is just too damn bad to. I honestly I can't say I would feel to bad about thining the gene pool in such a manner.


    Good. Like I said, if they're breaking the rules of the road they deserve whatever comes to them.

  • jimmydageek||

    Maybe if cyclist would ride the things somewhere appropriate, they wouldn't have the problem either.

    The road is somewhere appropriate, John. Learn to live with it. As Dan T. would say, if you don't like it, have the laws changed.

  • ||

    Remember how people laughted when the smokers said they were just the first target.Studies such as these prove the validatiy of the slippery slope theory.

    Um.. how? What is it particularly about this study that promotes the slippery slope theory? It's a very complex model designed to explain something pretty darn obvious, but that's about it. How others may use the study has nothing to do with the intentions of the study, the way it was conducted, or how it was reported.

  • jimmydageek||

    new bread of assholes took over the sport. Thanks for giving a perfect example of what I am talking about.

    New bread of assholes? Damn, I wouldn't want to eat that crap...

    As for me being an asshole, it was only in response to your asshole comment. If I'm treated with respect as a cyclist, I will do the same for others. If I'm riding on the road and you come up and pass too close to me or blare your horn as you pass by, you better hope there's no red light coming up or I will catch up to you and have some choice words.

  • ||

    Wait a second...John rides a motorcycle yet he complains about the rudeness and unsafe habits of people who ride bikes?

  • ||

    Um.. how? What is it particularly about this study that promotes the slippery slope theory? It's a very complex model designed to explain something pretty darn obvious, but that's about it. How others may use the study has nothing to do with the intentions of the study, the way it was conducted, or how it was reported.

    I second this opinion. It's really quite a stretch to assume that every study that deals with health issues is part of some kind of plot to institutionalize health care.

  • ||

    (the body takes the allergen, wraps it in fat, and sticks it in cells to avoid irritating the digestive system)

    I'm with SIV (shudders) in calling BS on this one. "The body" can't even get at the allergen until it's already in the small intestine, so it would be too late to prevent the digestive system from experiencing an allergic reaction.

    Furthermore, how does the allergen get from the small intestine to the fat cells, in your model? You're not seriously telling me that the body dumps allergens into the bloodstream to get them away from the digestive system.

  • Bopo||

    Yet more evidence that they are going to try to make obesity into a disease rather than a conscious lifestyle choice, in much the same way people try to claim alcoholism and drug abuse are diseases.

  • ||

    My body, my choice.

  • ||

    Wait a second.Saying you can catch fat like a virous is not a slippery slope?Look at the junk science used for second hand smoke.

  • ||

    What spreads is an idea. As people around you gain weight, your attitudes about what constitutes an acceptable body size changes

    What "spreads" is a style of living. An attitude about what constitutes an acceptible body size doesn't make you fat. You can go all day thinking, "Being fat is pretty cool," but if you are cycling 40 miles a day and eating watercress sandwiches you ain't gonna be fat.

    The study has made a great two-pronged discovery: (1) statistically, style of living is reflected in body shape and (2) people make mutual social connections with those having similar styles of living.

    Seeing that this is a discovery everyone else on earth has already made (and without the help of a financial grant), they had to dress up the discovery in terms of a disease model.

  • ||

    gaijin,

    no, no, no.

    my choice, your body.

  • ||

    "Wait a second...John rides a motorcycle yet he complains about the rudeness and unsafe habits of people who ride bikes?"

    I have never failed to flow with the traffic or obeyed the traffic laws on a motorcycle. Yes, there are lots of jerk motorcyclists out there, but they are really no different than jerk motorists who cut in an out of traffic and drive too fast. The only difference is motorcyclists who ride like that tend not to live very long.

    I don't have a problem with cyclists as long as they stay to the side out of traffic and obey the traffic laws. Time was most cyclysts did that. Now fewer and fewer do and seem to be offended by anyone saying anything to them about it.

  • VM||

    Randolph Carter -

    your first comment was great - conjured up the "Michangelo" Monty Python sketch. Brilliant!

    (For a Green Mountain Grizzly Adams d00d, that is)

    [keed! keed!]

  • Rhywun||

    Am I the only one who has noticed the increased obnoxiousness of cyclists?

    No. But they're only just catching up to the already-established obnoxiousness of many drivers.

  • Rhywun||

    I don't have a problem with cyclists as long as they stay to the side out of traffic

    Except, cyclists are perfectly entitled to be in traffic when, for example, making a left turn.

  • ||

    Why doesn't the opposite effect take over. When I sit around with my repulsive, disgusting, anorexic, skin and bones friends do I not become like them? Why must I become repulsive, disgustingly, morbidly obese? Is wealth contagious? Oh, I forgot, I don't have any rich friends, only skinny asses and fat slobs for friends, if I have any at all.

  • ||

    The link in the article is to the full paper. It was a longitudinal study assessing likelihood of weight gain and it controlled for things like smoking cessation. Seems like it would have been useful to control for being overweight at baseline but I didn't see anything about that.

    It does seem pretty obvious that social relationships would have an influence on likelihood of weight gain -- or loss, actually.

    I don't really have a problem with the study or its conclusions about the relationship of social ties and obesity. The problem is with the wide open conclusion that obesity should be treated as a public health problem. So yeah, I think we can safely assume the study will be used to prop up attempts to tax high fat foods and ban tater tots from school cafeterias.

    A more useful conclusion would have something to do with applying their findings to weight loss and weight maintenance strategies. Something like designing programs for groups of people who want to lose weight that would really stress mutually supporting one another to develop and maintain healthier eating habits. They could develop "tool kits" (public health types love tool kits) and make them available to community centers and community clinics. Of course they would also want to fund pilot programs to try and get these programs off the ground. There isn't much money from the government right now because Bush made huge cuts to discretionary health funding, but the foundations should be ripe for this sort of thing.

  • ||

    I'd have to agree with John that cyclists are really pissing me off right now. The other day I almost ran over another idiot, dressed up in full Lance Armstrong gear, riding on the wrong side of the rode, into oncoming traffic. I know some riders feel safer when they can see cars coming at them, but that's awfully dangerous because drivers aren't expecting to see a "vehicle" coming at them, and it's nearly impossible for a driver making a right turn to anticipate a cyclist riding in the lane they're turning into.

  • jimmydageek||

    Rhywun | July 26, 2007, 10:35am | #

    Am I the only one who has noticed the increased obnoxiousness of cyclists?

    No. But they're only just catching up to the already-established obnoxiousness of many drivers.


    Nice one, Rhywun.

    I think that as cycling has become more acceptable and popular with the younger generation, the older generation, which includes people like John, tend to get irritated by the freedoms enjoyed by cyclists today. Not to say that some of the same freedoms weren't enjoyed by cyclists in the past, but laws are becoming more and more cycling friendly, and motorists tend to not like that. Also, it's possible that cyclists in this day and age are more apt to stand up for their rights on the road than cyclists in the past.

    Sorry, John. Your days have come and gone. Live with that reality.

  • ||

    Wait a second.Saying you can catch fat like a virous is not a slippery slope?Look at the junk science used for second hand smoke.

    Umm.. did you read any of the study?
    "Social networks"
    "Moreover, friends affected friends' risk even when they lived far apart"

    Do these statements look like they're suggesting that you can catch fat?

    Way to overreact

  • ||

    I mean "road", not "rode".

    Road. That's a funny word. It's like it should be rowad. Look at the map with all those rowads.

  • ||

    When I sit around with my repulsive, disgusting, anorexic, skin and bones friends do I not become like them?

    The study also found that being of the same sex increases the effects of social networks. Have you been to ritzy dept. stores like Saks and seen the hordes of cadaverous women over 50 with their designer purses and those ugly blouses made of fabric with like, brass instruments and strands of gold beads and stuff on them? Those blouses are a public health problem. They are an environmental stressor and should be eradicated.

  • ||

    Lisa, always give in to peer pressure. Always.

  • jimmydageek||

    I'd have to agree with John jimmy that cyclists motorists are really pissing me off right now.

    crimethink,

    Whenever I see cyclists riding against traffic, I have the urge to find the next turn lane and run over those idiots. However, that does not make me hate all cyclists, just the ones in particular that are doing stupid shit and giving a bad name to the rest of us.

  • ||

    jimmydageek,

    Last I knew, riding on the wrong side of the road and blowing through stop signs and traffic signals were not among the "freedoms" cyclists possess.

  • ||

    Uh, I guess I'd have to agree, jimmy. I'm actually a cyclist myself, though I'm fairly lucky that I live near the Erie Canal trail and most of the places I'd bike to are on the same network of trails, so I don't have to go on actual roads for very long.

  • ||

    I am a road cyclist, and it annoys me greatly to see cyclists riding against traffic. It is extremely unsafe and just gives us a bad rep. I admit to blowing through stop signs out in the country, but all the cars do so as well, if that is any justification.

  • jimmydageek||

    Unfortunately, crimethink, there are no bike lanes in the city I live in, and most definitely no bike trails. As for riding on sidewalks, you have better statistical safety while riding on roads. So, I get more than a little upset when motorists think we don't belong on rowads.

  • ||

    So perhaps the most important question here, as many of you have hinted at, is this: when does a health problem that affects individuals become a "public health" problem?

    Now, I know that many of you will answer "never", but I would think that at least in theory there is a point where if enough individuals suffered from a health problem it would negatively effect people who did not.

  • ||

    All health problems effect individuals.

  • Rhywun||

    Unfortunately, a lot of us were taught in school to ride on the wrong side of the road, facing traffic. I don't know if they finally fixed that.

    Love the Erie Canal trail. When they opened up the new part of the 390 when I was a teenager I used to ride from Greece down to Genesee Valley Park all the time. Now I live in NYC and I've thought of buying a bike but the idea of riding it anywhere around here kind of scares me.

  • Schutz||

    "I'm with SIV (shudders) in calling BS on this one. "The body" can't even get at the allergen until it's already in the small intestine, so it would be too late to prevent the digestive system from experiencing an allergic reaction.

    Furthermore, how does the allergen get from the small intestine to the fat cells, in your model? You're not seriously telling me that the body dumps allergens into the bloodstream to get them away from the digestive system."

    An allergen isn't an allergen until it makes it through damaged small intestine walls (thanks antibiotics!) into the bloodstream as a protein larger than dipeptides. Once inside the blood an inflammatory response is initiated to eliminate the offending protein. Inflammation first mobilizes fat in the prostaglandin pathway. Second, inflammation (Especially chronic, as in you eat your food allergies daily) causes the release of cortisol, a hormone with the effect of causing fat to mobilize from the periphery (arms and legs) and store centrally. Hence the central obesity with cartoon-like small arms and legs on most fat but not too fat fat people.

  • Cactus||

    Just let the hate flow through you. They're fat so it's ok.

    Why can't we just round up the obese and put them into camps and start exterminating them? Use their corpulent cadavers as raw materials for industrial products. Render their lard for lubricants and soaps. Harvest their organs. Bank their blood. Remove their eyes. Grind their bones as fertilizer. Let nothing go to waste.

    You could even keep some alive in zoos or to play games with or to ride or to pit against each other in gladiator combat. Perhaps keep some of the little fat kids around to pull small carts or to just throw things at or to teach to perform amusing tricks. I mean they're obese. They're subhuman. They're the types who go to wal-mart and probably like nascar or live in trailer parks or go hunting. I mean those types out of all types deserve this sort of treatment from the skinny erudite classes. They'd be better off dead anyway and their betters wouldn't be burdened by having to look at their disgusting bloated forms, they wouldn't be such a drain on healthcare and they wouldn't be such an embarrassment to the nation when other countries see them.

  • ||

    Rhywun,

    Yeah, it is great. Plus, they've put in a trail that goes from downtown Roch all the way to Geneseo along the Genessee. (Though I think there are still a few sections where you have to go onto roads)

    Every year I say that I'm going to make that trip to and from Buffalo on the Canal Trail...maybe this'll be the year. But, I'll probably laze out and not do it (again).

  • ||

    All health problems effect individuals.

    Obviously what I meant was health problems that affect strictly individuals, as opposed to communicable disases and the like that affect groups of people.

    This study may imply that your personal psychology is altered by the people you hang around, but nobody is literally saying that obesity can be "caught" - you still have to consume a lot more calories than you burn. But that doesn't necessarily mean that obesity is not a public health issue.

  • ||

    Does anyone know how heavy the people who did this study are? It may give you some insight into their intentions.

    As a former fatty, I can tell you that fat people are always looking for a reason why they are so fat, when they can't seem to accept the whole "diet and exercise" thing that's been around for a while. This study merely suggests that hanging around people with better eating and exercise habbits tends to make people have better eating and exercise habbits themselves. That's it! Tout! Alles!

    Everyone knows that when they go to visit their southern grandparents they come back having packed on a few pounds, right?

  • Edward||

    Affect, Joe, affect.

    Fat people die younger and free up space.

  • ||

    In March I became a daily bicyle commuter in Chicago. To all the people here stating "gee I hate the law-breaking cyclists too and wish they wouldn't give us other cyclists a bad name," drop it. Cyclists NEVER obey traffic signals, unless the intersection is so busy they literally can't cross without getting killed.

  • ||

    OK.

    Ah dew de-clah, all health problems uh-fect individuals, now.

    That time, I affected a Truman Capote-ish persona.

  • highnumber||

    jimmy (or Mr Steven Crane, or any other cyclists),

    Bicycle Rules of the Road question:

    How is one supposed top make a left turn at a busy intersection?
    Lately, I have noticed a lot of cyclists using the left turn lane. This seems more dangerous than using the crosswalk. Which is correct when riding?

  • VM||

    Eric (S): that's cuz you're probably late for your show with Cathy...

    [ducks]

  • ||

    Vanessa:
    Something like designing programs for groups of people who want to lose weight that would really stress mutually supporting one another to develop and maintain healthier eating habits.

    You mean like the show 'Biggest Loser'?

  • highnumber||

    supposed to,
    of course.

  • ||

    bob-cat,

    I'm not just screwing with you. I'm seriously trying to get at the logic of the point you're making.

    Obviously what I meant was health problems that affect strictly individuals, as opposed to communicable disases and the like that affect groups of people.

    Obesity affects groups of people. Lots of people have obesity. This study, and a whole lot of other studies, demonstrate that external factors that large groups of Americans are subject to can contribute to the condition.

    Why is germ-communication the relevant criteria for distinguishing "private" vs. "public" health issues?

  • VM||

    (sorry for double)

    places I've ridden had the rule that the cyclists cross the street and use the crosswalk.

    want to turn left off of LaSalle to Goethe: Cross Goethe on LaSalle - to the north side of Goethe.

    Stop. Wait for light. Go west on Goethe (have to cross LaSalle). But the signal to stop was holding your right hand up, not down, so go figure

  • jimmydageek||

    Not the case here, Eric S. So, no, I won't drop it.

    Just as all motorists should obey traffic laws, so should cyclists. Especially cyclists, I should say, if only to keep from getting killed by motorists. Unfortunately, they don't think of possible consequences when the break traffic laws.

    I also wish police would do more to enforce traffic laws with cyclists. Where I live, I occasionally see cyclists riding against traffic while police cruisers pass them by. The cops never do a thing about it. It really frustrates me.

  • jimmydageek||

    highnumber | July 26, 2007, 11:48am | #

    jimmy (or Mr Steven Crane, or any other cyclists),

    Bicycle Rules of the Road question:

    How is one supposed top make a left turn at a busy intersection?
    Lately, I have noticed a lot of cyclists using the left turn lane. This seems more dangerous than using the crosswalk. Which is correct when riding?


    Well, highnumber, the answer is: Either way. Legally. As for anecdote, I usually use the left turn lane, and have never encountered any problems. The few times when I have been forced to use a crosswalk I had to resort to my Frogger skills in order to get across safely. Statistically, you are more likely to get hit on sidewalks and crosswalks than you are on the road.

  • jimmydageek||

    As for cyclists in the middle of the road, I will say this in their (our) defense.

    When I first started commuting to work on a bicycle, I would stay as far right on the road as possible. Unfortunately, this gave the motorists and semi-truck drivers the idea that it was OK for them to pass me with just inches to spare on my left side. So, as time went on, and I grew a little more comfortable with the idea, I decided I would prevent this from happening. I got a mirror on my helmet so that I could keep an eye on the vehicles coming behind me. Now, when I see a vehicle approaching from behind, and another vehicle approaching in the opposite lane that would prevent the one behind me from passing with a safe distance, I simply move towards the center of the lane and keep them from passing. I know it seems like an asshole thing to do, but I have to watch out for my own safety first and foremost. Since I started doing the "block the lane" technique, I haven't had many vehicles, and, most importantly, ZERO semi-trucks pass too close to me. So, sometimes you just have to be an asshole if you want to be safe...there's no way around it.

  • ||

    I do.

  • ||

    that too sometimes

  • e||

    I feel safest bicycling with other bicyclists around me. There's safety in numbers: I don't know if there's any stats on it but it sure feels safer. Car drivers have a harder time ignoring two or three bicycles than they do just one. I guess that makes me a collectivist moocher thug; yippee!

  • ||

    They are not fat. They are gravitationally challenged.

  • VM||

    jimmy -

    I don't understand what you mean about the crosswalk?

    I used to live in a bicycle country, and the rule was you crossed the street onto which you wanted to turn, wait on the right curb for the light to change, and proceed on the new street after the light has changed. (or they had bike lanes with their own signals)

    Semi trucks passing too close to you? that's freaking frightening!

    yowza. Just remember how you feel that the UKROBOLD has sacrificed Mr. Steven Crane's taint for your bike safety!

  • dhex||

    "This study merely suggests that hanging around people with better eating and exercise habbits tends to make people have better eating and exercise habbits themselves."

    that would seem to be the case right there. if your friends are hanging out smoking blunts kicking it all the time you have a different influence on your habits than if they're always hiking or cycling or whatever. (though the best mix would seem to be hiking during the day, blunts in the evening with 4 or 5 sensible small meals?)

  • Another Phil||

    A few days ago, I saw a cyclist who thought that a van had cut him off (it hadn't). He then started riding alongside the van's passenger window flipping off the driver. Because he had stopped looking ahead of him, he ran right into the back of another car. Hilarious justice.

    Another time, I was parking my motorcycle on a one-way street. To adjust my angle against the curb, I pulled out a few feet into the street after checking in the direction cars were supposed to be coming from. A delivery person on a bicycle riding down the street in the wrong direction smashed into me. No real harm done, but I was pretty pissed. His chain had come off and he stared me down the entire time he was putting it back on as if it were my fault.

    My point: lot of cyclists are inconsiderate assholes.

    P.S. jimmydageek, I use the same middle-of-the lane strategy on my motorcycle. I'm not so afraid of trucks though; limo drivers are by far the worst, followed by taxi drivers and buses, then the protect-my-car-at-any-cost assholes who swerve to avoid potholes and recessed manhole covers.

  • jimmydageek||

    Yes, I truly appreciate Mr. Steven Crane sacrificing his taint for the safety of other cyclists.

    That said, what I meant by crosswalks is just that; that little area between those little marked lines that run parallel to the road you are on, and perpendicular to the road you are trying to cross, which have a signal on both ends that display either a hand, or a "walk" or something of that nature. Motorists that are turning onto or off of the road which you are trying to cross tend to forget that pedestrians and cyclists have the right of way. Therefore, I avoid crosswalks or sidewalks and use the road lanes whenever possible. The only times I will begrudgingly use the crosswalk is when I cannot safely make it from the right side of the road to the left turn lane.

    And, yes, semi-trucks passing closely is incredibly scary. All I can do is close my eyes and pray...or take the chance of riding in the grass / dirt with my skinny road bike tires, as there are no paved shoulders on my commute to work.

  • ||

    Gaijin, I'm not familiar with the show. But since it's a competition to lose the most weight, might the contestants subtly try to sabotage one another?

    Or is the whole premise based mutual insults and scorn, a la the "Fat Fighters" vignettes on Little Britain?

    Another Phil,

    Once a cyclist ran into the back of my car. I got cut off by a car that stopped while using the bicycle lane to make a right turn. I was new to city driving so instead of aggressively whipping around him to get through the light as I might do now, I stopped. Then I looked in my rearview mirror and saw a cyclist pedaling furiously behind me in an attempt to follow me through the light. He pedaled right into my car, rolled partially onto the trunk, and then fell to the ground. His front wheel was bent and he was furious. But hey, he shouldn't have attempted to follow a car like that. When I saw how angry he was I drove off. It was clear from his angry jumping around that he blamed me and was not rational.

    When I think back on it, it was really funny watching him cycle right into the back of my car.

  • jimmydageek||

    I, too, would laugh at something like that, Vanessa. However, I don't know if driving off was a good idea, only because you could have been charged with fleeing the scene of an accident, even though the accident was clearly the cyclists fault. Just something to consider if it were to ever happen again.

  • ||

    Thanks, jimmy. And you are completely right. I drove off because he seemed kind of nuts, and also more interested in yelling about it to this homeless guy on the sidewalk than about approaching me. I did actually linger long enough to see if he seemed interested in talking about it. But if something like that happens again I'd probably find out if the person wanted to contact the police. I think I'm less intimidated now than I was then.

    Hell, Jered Townsend doesn't even scare me.

  • jimmydageek||

    Is that the Subway® guy? Why would he scare you?

  • ||

    He has big guns.

  • VM||

    Thanks for the info DaGeek!!!

  • ||

    joe said, "And if I should happen to run down one of the dumb bastards because they run a red light or cut in front of me, that is just too damn bad to. I honestly I can't say I would feel to bad about thining the gene pool in such a manner..."

    As a bicylist, I'd like to thank you, joe, for showing that your statist views are based on a love for humanity. I can rest easier knowing that your incessant advocacy for larger government is based on a desire to help your fellow human beings.

  • ||

    Ethan: I am a road cyclist, and it annoys me greatly to see cyclists riding against traffic. It is extremely unsafe and just gives us a bad rep.

    ERIC S: To all the people here stating "gee I hate the law-breaking cyclists too and wish they wouldn't give us other cyclists a bad name," drop it. Cyclists NEVER obey traffic signals, unless the intersection is so busy they literally can't cross without getting killed.

    Thanks for proving my point, Eric. That's exactly the attitude I was referring to.

  • ||

    jh,

    That was John @ 9:56 AM, not joe, who said that.

  • ||

    de stijl -- You're right. My apologies to joe.

  • ||

    Apology accepted, jh. But not graciously.

    As a bicylist, I'd like to thank you, joe, for showing that your statist views are based on a love for humanity. I can rest easier knowing that your incessant advocacy for larger government is based on a desire to help your fellow human beings.,/i>

    So now that you realize that the bit of hate speech in question actually comes from someone whose political beliefs are quite similar to your own, I trust your deep-seated sense of honor and intellectual honesty will lead you to draw the same conclusion about the humanitarian motivations of right-leaning libertarians.











    Nah, just kidding. Of course you won't.

    BTW, are you sure you don't want to post under another name, agreeing with yourself, but leave your own email address in the link? Again?

  • THUNDERCHICKEN||



    mmmmmMMMM! Naughty.

  • ||

    joe,

    I wouldn't mock others for sloppiness with the name and email fields if I were you. ;-)

  • DaveT||

    Isn't it just as likely that someone starts making fat friends at the point that they decide that fat isn't such a big deal (so that their weight subsequently catches up with them)? Don't most people tend to get fatter as they get older? If fat people hang out with skinny people do they get skinnier?

  • ||

    I believe it!!! It's been known to happen in other instances and the authors/researchers are living proof...just look what happens when they hang around idiots and stupid people...it's contagious also.

  • ||

    joe, I appreciate your (self-described) ungracious acceptance of my apology for my hasty and sloppy misreading of the name field in a post, and thinking it was you. Re: your comment: "So now that you realize that the bit of hate speech in question actually comes from someone whose political beliefs are quite similar to your own, I trust your deep-seated sense of honor and intellectual honesty will lead you to draw the same conclusion about the humanitarian motivations of right-leaning libertarians."

    Don't know the political views of the person in question. However, as you are not a left-leaning libertarian, but an actual statist leftist by your own admission, you can't say you're just on the other side of the libertarian continuun of a right-leaning lib.

    Gonna be people with views I personally find obnoxious in (and outside) the libertarian camp. No doubt many people find some of my views obnoxious. The point is that libertarian-leaning folks tend to cause less harm with their obnoxious views, since they tend to not try to impose them on others unless they feel their rights are being trodden upon. Whereas you are OK with stealing money from total strangers (under the guise of taxation), and using those ill-gotten gains to hire total strangers to bomb other total strangers who have caused you no personal affront. Real libertarians don't do that. So, I'll take a personally obnoxious right-wing libertarian over your purported humanitarianism any day -- unless that libertarian tries to run me over while bicycling. Though I try to bicycle with aloha, and not p*** off car drivers, so hopefully that won't happen.

    Again, thanks for accepting my apology!

  • ||

    ""What spreads is an idea. As people around you invade other countries, your attitudes about what constitutes an acceptable body count changes, and you might follow suit and emulate that kill ratio of civilians," [Nicholas A. Christakis of Harvard Medical School, who led the study] said. [emphasis added]

  • ||

    Lots of fat libs out there-I can't wait to see how this one plays out. I'm lovin this as an ex-smoker that somehow managed to stay thin after she quit.

  • ||

    The way to use their finding is to develop a program that utilizes existing social networks as a starting point to spread information about healthy diet and exercise and provide social support for developing healthier habits. The program would need to use existing social ties - both weak and strong ties - and seek to develop new ties. Information is spread faster where there are weak ties. It would probably work best if the initial recruits were part of a larger social group that would already include clusters of strong ties with weak ties to other clusters. Maybe recruiting at the end of PTA meetings or something where people who are interested in hearing the spiel would stick around for it. Everyone who wants to participate would say, try to recruit one other person from outside the group to participate as well and the overall network would grow.

    It should be a long-term committment that is not too intense so there wouldn't be a mass exodus in the early stages. The focus should be not on weight loss but on healthier eating and exercise and long term change. Even slow progress would desireable and should probably be the expected norm. There would be few early group meetings to get things underway, and after that people would get together in small groups (not more than 3 people) on a regular basis, maybe twice a month, and either go out for a healthy meal or prepare one at someone's home. At then end of each year, people would go individually to the clinic/community center/school for a basic physical, including weight, % body fat, cholesteral and things of that nature. Other members of the group would never know a persons outcomes unless the person voluntarily shared it. After everyone has their physical, there is a party with healthy snacks and dancing.

    Dietary guidelines would be sensible, based on perhaps the American Dietetic Association's position papers on healthy eating, including NO demonization of individual foods like trans fats. There would be no food ideology about GMOs, organics, or vegetarianism.

    The program would last for ten years.

    It's just a stab at sketching out a meaningful response to their central finding about social networks and weight.

  • ||

    Dammit, I need to stop my browser from autofilling.

    Shite.

  • ||

    This study shows an association between obesity and social affiliation but that is a long way from showing causation. The authors acknowledge that it is well known that people affect one another in many different ways. I am not sure about describing this as being like the flu spreading through a population is an accurate depiction of the results. Social behavior theories posit that behavior is a complex phenomenon that is affected by many different levels of social interaction, from the individual to the community. I do not doubt that there is an association between the weight of related people or friends, but there are many possible confounders involved. This study does give some quantification to the association but it is difficult for me to see how this can help to inform future interventions for obesity.

  • speedzter||

    They are not fat. They are gravitationally challenged. Have a look at this collection of funny looking Fat People Pictures.

  • دردشه عراقية||

    Thanks

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