Deeply fascinating NEJM article I somehow missed last year on obesity and social networks:
Results Discernible clusters of obese persons (body-mass index [the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters], ≥30) were present in the network at all time points, and the clusters extended to three degrees of separation. These clusters did not appear to be solely attributable to the selective formation of social ties among obese persons. 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.
Conclusions Network phenomena appear to be relevant to the biologic and behavioral trait of obesity, and obesity appears to spread through social ties.
Put simply, obesity is partially viral, at least in a social sense, with people around others with high BMIs tending to develop high(er) BMIs themselves. I have cited similar sorts of things in stocks as well. So intriguing.