The U.S. has a health crisis right now, two thirds of the population is either overweight or obese. This is leading to many health issues as a result like diabetes, hypertension, cancer, etc. This has prompted researchers to study why overweight and obesity is rampant. A recent 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. The risk increased between 57 and 171% if your friend was overweight. Similarly, there was an increased risk if your spouse is overweight. It was reported that if your spouse gains weight, you have a greater risk of gaining weight in the next 2 to 4 years. Researchers agree that social interaction plays a role such as eating together and activity and exercise. That is hanging out with people that don’t exercise or eat in a certain way or like certain foods can increase the risk. However, it is thought that as you associate with more and more overweight people and as people around you gain weight, your attitudes about what constitutes an acceptable body size changes. Norms change over time and your concerns and self-consciousness of body weight disappear. The problem is that you are left with health risks  that will plague you for the rest of your life and as studies show, may have a shortened life span. Yours in good health, Linda Hlivka Clinical Nutritionist