ALEXANDRIA, VA. - “Familiarity breeds contempt,” or so it’s said.
Now, medical researchers have found that familiarity also fosters fat. In the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, the Bible of medical research reports a link between my “love handles” and my friends.
If you believe the Journal, I am over 50% more likely to gain pounds if my pals pack ‘em on first. What’s worse, if my very best buddy adds a few inches around his waist, then I am over 150% more likely to punch another notch in my own belt.
Is it really possible that my “full-bodied” friends are to blame for my paunch, not pastrami, pasta, and pie à la mode?
The New England Journal of Medicine isn’t speculating on how or why obesity can spread like poison ivy at summer camp. Is it misplaced simpatico? I don’t want my buddies to feel bad if I look thinner, so I let the waiter drop that extra mound of whipped cream on my chocolate cream pie while I pretend to be engaged in scintillating conversation with my dinner guests? Is it possible I’m not an out-of-control chocoholic, but a compassionate chomper?
Maybe to escape the fattening influence of our friends, we just keep them several forks’ length away?
Sorry, that won’t work because of a related, fiendish discovery by those New England spoilsports. It seems that this fat linkage is not dependent on proximity. My buddies don’t even have to be my neighbors. When my pal in Phoenix grabs that extra piece of pepperoni pizza, I’m the one who will pack on the pounds!
Life just isn’t fair.
The results of the New England Journal study do explain, however, a few odd political phenomena. The unseen influence of friends explains why Congressmen from the Farm Belt move to Washington D.C. and after three months breathing the Capitol’s rich air, trash their farmer jeans and slip into Brooks Brothers pin stripes.
Could this be why the members of the U.S. Supreme Court are displaying increasing irritation with each other? Chunky Antonin Scalia, who sits on the high bench just a pie’s throw from diminutive Ruth Bader-Ginsburg, may be horrified at the prospect of looking as trim as she is.
(Luckily for the Supremes, it’s impossible to tell who’s fit and who’s fat under those billowing black robes.)
Is the New England Journal of Medicine sounding the death knell for our country’s vaunted “rugged individualism”? That’s very worrisome. If we become overly dependent on the influence of our friends, millions of us will buy gas guzzling SUV’s just because our buddies drive them. (Sorry, bad example.)
All this writing about food has made me hungry. I’m going out for a burger. (Blame it on my buddy Barry.)
Dick Methia lives in Springfield. His column is exclusive to Local Kicks.