Peers can influence our behavior in positive and negative ways. A new study finds that female college freshmen who room with heavier women may gain less weight.
The study focused on 144 female college students who were randomly assigned roommates at the start of freshman year. They were asked their height and weight as well as what, if any, weight management activities they were involved with, such as being on a diet, exercising and using weight loss supplements.
Researchers found that study participants who roomed with women who weighed more than average actually gained less weight during their freshman year than women who roomed with more slender gals. The difference was an average half-pound weight gain compared with an average 2.5-pound weight gain.
"It's not really the weight of your roommate that's important, but the behaviors your roommate engages in," said study co-author Kandice Kapinos of the University of Michigan in a news release. "These behaviors are what may really be 'contagious.' "