Do YOUR friends make you feel fat How we feel about our size and shape is influenced by the way pals feel about theirs, study reveals
17:17 GMT, 6 November 2012
It is a well-known fact that women compare their figures with one another.
But scientists have now taken this social comparing one step further, saying that women's body-related issues mirror what they think their friends' body image concerns are too.
A total of 75 pairs of female friends from Mount Alison University in Eastern Canada were asked how often they talk to each other about different issues surrounding their weight, including exercise, appearance, weight loss and their relationship with food and eating.
Research: Scientists now say that we adopt our friends body issues too
The researchers also assessed the women's body image and whether they felt pressure from friends about their weight.
of their size, weight and shape, results showed that the more women felt under
pressure to be thin thanks to conversations with friends that lingered on such topics, the more likely they were to have body image
Weighty issues: Our friends influence how we feel about our bodies
Researchers found that women whose conversations with friends frequently focused on exercise demonstrated lower body satisfaction than those who rarely touched upon the topic.
female friends saw that their own concerns were mirrored in each other,
suggesting that perceptions rather than actual thoughts resulted in
their own body concerns.
Writing for the journal Sex Roles, Dr Louise Wasylkiw and Molly Williamson said:
'Our research demonstrates that friends influence each other through at least three processes: perceived pressure to be thin; body-related talk; and perceptions.'
'Although these perceptions are somewhat grounded in reality, i.e. they are close to the truth, they are more influential than reality.'