Hey! It’s Not Our Fault We Got So Fat!

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Splayed on the couch, foraging for Tater Tots deep within our neck rolls, sometimes we wonder how we got so damn fat. For a long time, we suspected that we lacked a modicum of self-control. But new scientific research proves that now we can blame others for our blubber, and it's about time!

Scientists have finally begun exploring why other people make us fat. To this end, Scientific American took the weight (figuratively speaking, of course) off our shoulders and released an article yesterday suggesting that our social networks actually make us hefty.

We're not talking about Facebook, either, although there is a certain glee in discovering that one's high-school paramour has melted into a 300-pound missile shaped like the Titanic. No, it's the people we see every day who make us husky. To this end, Scientific American reports upon a burgeoning phenomenon called "Would you like to see the dessert menu?" (Maybe the first time Science is co-opting a line usually heard at T.G.I. Friday's.)

This is the moment when a waiter arrives to ask if anyone would like dessert. And it's a free-for-all from there. "In this situation, people often pause to glance around the table and see if anyone is going to ask for the menu; if no one else asks for the menu, an individual will often pass as well, whereas if one person does ask for the menu, others will be more likely to order dessert," researchers explain. If your friends are pigs, you think it's okay to be a pig, too. In other words: It's a little like the way your friends first got you to try smoking in high school.

But that's not all: Where you live also contributes to flab quotient. Particularly if you happen to be a young black American residing in the southeastern United States. In a study that manages to be both extremely specialized and, without context, somewhat eyebrow-raising in its focus on race, researchers discovered that access to fast-food restaurants is associated with higher calorie intake among this demographic.

Overall, however, we're delighted that researchers are looking for ways to absolve us of blame for our weight gain. In sum: We are not sorry we got fat, and we will not try to slim down.

How Obesity Spreads in Social Networks [Scientific American]
Calorie Intake Rises When Fast-Food Restaurants Nearby [US News]