The Power of Small Groups


In 2007, Nicholas Christakis, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., and James H. Fowler, Ph.D. published a study in The New England Journal of Medicine citing the results of their investigation of 12,067 people over a thirty-two year period from 1971 to 2003. They wanted to observe whether obesity would spread over social networks. What they found was enlightening. Amongst mutual friends, if one friend became obese, the likelihood of the other also becoming obese, increased by 171%. If a siblings of the same sex became obese, the risk for sisters increased by 67% and for brothers by 44%. Amongst married couples it was an increase of 37%. What was most astonishing however, is that in all cases, geography was not a deciding factor. The risk was there whether they were in close proximity to each other or not. What this means is that it wasn’t a continuous imitation of behavior that made the difference. Rather, as the researchers point out, it suggests that the spread of obesity, may rely more on a change in what is considered an acceptable norm.

This may account then, at least in part, for the epidemic in overweight and obesity worldwide. We may not consider being fat as desirable. Yet the reality is that two in three people in the US and almost that same ratio in Canada and the UK, makes someone who is overweight part of the crowd, rather than an outsider. It is far more acceptable to be fat now than it was in the 60‘s, 70’s or 80’s, because it is now the norm. Human beings need to feel like they belong.

Then consider the power of a small ongoing group of women that share the same goals and values that you do: to be healthy, at your ideal weight and to once and for all, have control over your relationship with food. The energy derived from the accountability, sharing, and experiences of the group has longer staying power than if you were trying to reach your goals on your own.

The challenge is that many of the weight loss groups out there tackle the concepts of diet and exercise but don’t dive into the behaviour or the biology behind why you do what you do.

If you’ve been looking for a group that goes beyond the ‘same ol, same ol’ to help you transform your relationship with food and your body, then a small group may be just what you’ve been looking for.