We watch them on television for entertainment, but according to the latest research from Brown University, competitive, team-based weight loss competitions like “The Biggest Loser” can be very effective. The study is suggesting that weight loss may actually be contagious and competitive environments are the perfect place to encourage weight loss.
Researchers from the Miriam Hospital’s Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center and The Warren Alpert Medical School followed participants in Shape Up Rhode Island (SURI), a 12-week, statewide online weight loss competition.
Participants joined as part of a team and then competed against others. In total, 3,330 state residents with body mass indexes of 31.2 or greater participated in groups of five to 11 people on a total of 987 teams.
Researchers found that people experienced similar weight loss levels as their teammates. They also found that team members who said they were inspired by teammates lost more weight than those who didn’t attribute influence to their team.
According to Tricia Leahey, Lead Author of the study:
“We know that obesity can be socially contagious, but now we know that social networks play a significant role in weight loss as well, particularly team-based weight loss competitions. In our study, weight loss clearly clustered within teams, which suggests that teammates influenced each other, perhaps by providing accountability, setting expectations of weight loss, and providing encouragement and support.”
The findings pretty much show a connection between our networks and our health habits. Having a strong support system that not only encourages, but actively participates in creating and living a healthy lifestyle definitely makes a difference in whether or not we achieve our goals.
So next time you head out to the gym, grab a friend, or two, because people who workout together, lose weight together.