That’s right. We as humans are so influenced by our environment that the things or people we see around us can have a significant effect on our behavior. Worse yet, this seems to happen entirely unbeknownst to us. This effect is so powerful that it can override even an intensely strong personal commitment to a healthy weight loss program.
One study found that people who merely saw a picture of an overweight person indulged more in candies that were offered to them than participants who saw a picture of a normal weight person or a picture of a lamp. Another study found that participants ate twice as many cookies in a cookie taste test after seeing someone who was overweight. The findings were quite clear that we tend to eat more unhealthy and indulgent food after seeing someone who is overweight or obese. The mere sight of someone who is overweight can make us temporarily put aside our own commitment to a healthy diet and weight loss program.
For those of us who are trying to lose weight in the company of someone heavier and less committed to weight loss, these results are probably not so unexpected. We know the mere presence of such a person makes it that much more challenging for us to stick to our diet plan. It’s a form of peer pressure or negative social modeling. Despite our own weight loss goals and commitments, we naturally want to behave like those around us.
Can you use this knowledge to help you lose weight? Absolutely. This study reminds us that if we want to lose weight successfully, then we must try to find support from people who are also committed to losing weight. This is why having a weight loss buddy can be so helpful. Try to become part of a community of people who value and are working toward better health and vitality. Seek out support and discuss your weight loss goals with individuals who have embraced similar goals for themselves.
Source: Journal of Consumer Research