Did you know that being underweight can be as dangerous as being overweight. Joel Ray, MD, associate professor at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, Canada, reported on a study comparing adults with a body mass index (BMI) of less than 18.5 with those of a normal BMI and those considered obese. The study did not include people who had chronic or terminal illness. If you are underweight, hypnotherapy can help you reach a reasonable, healthy goal weight.

A normal body mass index is between 18.5 and 24.9 Dr. Ray reported that people in the obese BMI range of 30 or above had a risk of dying that was 1.2 times higher than for those with a normal BMI while those who had a BMI of less than 18.5 were 1.8 times more likely to dies than those with a normal body mass index. In other words, being underweight carries more risk than being obese.

You can check your BMI by logging in to www.NHLBI.NIH.gov and search for the “BMI Calculator.” If you are either overweight or underweight, hypnosis can be a valuable tool to help your body have a reasonable amount of muscle mass and fat. Check your BMI and remember hypnosis can help you BE WELL.


    If you are carrying extra weight through the midsection and dieting doesn't seem to work, it may help to understand why it's been so hard to lose your belly fat.  Though certainly chronic overeating or lack of exercise causes for an enlarged midsection, the underlying problem may be caused by stress.  Hypnosis can help with motivation for eating control, to help you exercise regularly and to deal with the stress in your life.

     Stress affects you not only mentally and emotionally but physically as well.  When a person is stressed, chemicals are released by the brain to the adrenal glands.  The adrenals then create their own chemicals including the key adrenal problem behind belly fat, the steroid, cortisol.

     Cortisol increases appetite and keeps blood sugar levels and insulin high which causes the storage of excess blood sugars as fat in the belly.  Unfortunately, diet changes alone do not affect belly fat and often frustrate a dieter when weight loss occurs but the belly still bulges.  In fact, in many cases, fixation on diet may actually increase stress producing even more cortisol and more belly fat.

     So how do you get out of this circle of frustration?  Certainly continuing to eat healthy foods in moderate portions and moving regularly should be part of your plan to lose belly fat.  Hypnosis can be a great tool to help with those goals.

     Research suggests using Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin C.  Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines and trout, walnuts and flax.  Supplementation can also be done with omega-3 fish oil supplements.  Be aware that fish oil has a blood thinner action.  So check with your doctor before using the supplement especially if you already take blood thinners.

    In addition, eat vitamin C rich foods which can help with stress and belly fat.  Studies have shown that adrenal glands register vitamin C deficiency as a stress problem and increase cortisol output.  Fruits such as peaches, oranges and strawberries are excellent sources of vitamin C.  Vegetables including sweet red pepper, broccoli, tomatoes and cauliflower also are rich sources of vitamin C.  Supplementing with Vitamin C is also an easy option especially if you are not good about eating your fruits and vegetables.

 But when you are eating right and moving more, what else can you do? Hypnotherapy can be a valuable tool in dealing with the under lying problem of stress.  Hypnosis can help you create new tools to motivate you to build better self-care and to deal with the stress in your life by learning to control anxiety and trigger relaxation.  Lose that belly fat by making healthy changes and stopping the cycle of stress, cortisol production and belly fat.  Feel better, look good and BE WELL.  



     When I do a clinical interview with a weight loss client, I always ask about the client's motivation to lose the weight.  I hear lots of reasons that range from self-esteem to wearing all those clothes hanging up in the closet that don't fit.  Some clients will also mention health risks for heart disease or diabetes.  A less well-known risk for being overweight or obese is cancer.

     Melina Arnold, PhD and scientist at the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon France has reported on a review of health data of almost 74,000 postmenopausal women which found that every decade in which people were overweight or obese drove up the risk of being diagnosed with certain cancers by as much as 37%  Among the risks were breast, kidney and colon cancer.  The strongest risk was for endometrial cancer.

    Arnold suggests that reasons for risk of cancer after being overweight or obese for decades include chronic inflammation, hormone metabolism which can elevate the risk for certain cancers and oxidative DNA damage.  If you or a loved one have been overweight for decades, it's time to lose the weight and reduce further cancer risk.

    So what can you do to finally lose the weight?  First of all, see your physician.  Make sure you are not fighting a medical issue which keeps you from losing weight or even causes you to gain weight. Once those risks have been eliminated it's time to create your plan for losing weight.

     Research has found that people who have a plan or a particular program do better than those who simply decide to "watch their weight".  So research weight loss programs which may include weight-loss books, nutrition books, gym and personal training programs, prepared food providers, diet and weight loss clubs or one-on-one nutrition and diet counseling.  

    Once you have created a plan for how you choose to lose the weight, get a boost from hypnosis.  A hypnotherapist can help you set goals on eating, exercise and staying motivated to follow your plan.  Hypnosis can be a valuable tool to lose weight and reduce your cancer risk. 



     Have you been thinking about starting to exercise?  Is thinking as far as you have gone in actually getting started?  Hypnosis can be a great motivator to get you moving.

     If your are trying to lose weight, boost your mood, get into better shape physically or get your heart beating faster, nothing beats exercise.  A study done in the U.K. reviewed several years of health research and found that 30 minutes of exercise on most days decreases the risk of depression, heart disease, obesity, certain cancers and type 2 diabetes.

     Hypnosis can help you not only GET moving but KEEP moving.  So if you need help in either area, make a appointment with a hypnotherapist.  When you go to the appointment, be clear about your goals so they can be incorporated into your hypnosis session.

     It helps to plan in advance what type of exercise you plan to do.  You will not accept a hypnosis session that you would never do.  I always tell people, "There is no use giving you the suggestion that you will do an hour work out at the gym every day if you hate the gym."  Instead, think about what you could do that you actually enjoy.  Think about what you did as a kid.  If you liked to run and play, take a walk.  Or ride a bicycle.  Buy some roller bladesl. Fly a kite. You are much more apt to do something you enjoy.

    Make your goals as specific as possible.  Rather than thinking, "I need to exercise", think "I will walk four mornings a week from 9:00 till 9:30."  Think about where you are going to do the exercise, if you enjoy nature your goal may be to walk in the park or on a nature trail.  If you don't like to get too cold or too hot, grab a mile at the mall.  Most mornings the mall is still relatively empty.  Set goals for distance.  If you walk at a brisk pace for 15 minutes, you should have walked about one mile.  A pedometer is a great way to keep track of your distance.  Health experts recommend 10,000 steps a day.  Keep track of your progress.  Draw a happy face on the calendar when you return.  The reason children like gold stars is that they are motivating!

    Whether your exercise goals include home equipment, going to the gym, videos or taking that walk, have them clear in your mind, so the hypnotherapist can make sure they are part of your hypnosis session.

    Get going, get moving.  Hypnosis helps!!


     According to a study of 1,615 adults by researchers at the University of Leeds, UK published in PLOS ONE,  lack of sleep puts you at greater risk for obesity.  The researchers found that not getting enough sleep was also associated with reduced levels of the "good" cholesterol, HDL, which can help protect you from heart disease.  It's good to know hypnosis can be a valuable tool in dealing with lack of sleep and insomnia.

    If your waist size is expanding, look at your sleep habits.  The study's researchers compared the amount of sleep with waist measurements.  The findings indicated people who slept on average six hours per night had measurements 1.2 inches greater than those who slept nine hours per night.

   If you are struggling with not getting enough sleep or an expanding waistline, call a hypnotherapist to help you sleep better and longer and lose inches around your waist.  Use hypnotherapy to BE WELL.


        If you have followed this blog for a while, you may  have seen my updates on the problems with drinking diet soda.  Many of my clients tell me similar stories of being concerned about weight gain. With the best of intentions, they shifted from regular soft drinks to diet sodas to eliminate calories.  But in many cases, they actually gained weight.  Hypnosis is a great tool to help those wanting to quit drinking diet soda.

     It seems so unfair.  You trade from regular to diet soft drinks in attempt to lose or at least control weight gain.  But the exact opposite happens.  Sharon Fowler, MPH, obesity researcher at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, reported on a nine year study of almost 500 adults over the age of 64 and found that daily diet soda drinkers had much larger increases in waist circumference than those who did not drink diet soft drinks.  In fact there was a threefold increase in the circumference of the waist of diet soda drinkers.

    Beyond the cosmetic results from diet soda drinking, there is a health risk.  Since artificial sweeteners can interfere with glucose metabolism, it increases the risk for stroke, diabetes and heart disease.  If you have been thinking about reducing the risk of these health issues and want to keep your belly flat and your waist trim, it's time to stop.  If you need some help, hypnosis can help you stop drinking diet soda and BE WELL.  


     Years ago, you may have switched from sugar-sweetened soda to diet drinks in an attempt to lose weight.  But studies continue to come out linking diet soda to weight gain. You can read about the research in these studies in some of my earlier blogs. If you have been thinking about getting off diet soda but need help, hypnosis can be a valuable tool.

    A recent study of 749 people over age 65 was conducted by researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and was published in the JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN GERIATRICS SOCIETY.  The researchers reported a definite link between diet soda and weight gain.  Over nine years, people who did not drink diet soda had an 0.8 inch expansion in their waist lines.  The people who drank diet soda occasionally had a waist expansion of 1.8 inches.  People who drank one or more cans of diet soda every day during those nine years added 3.2 inches to their waists.

   If you are ready to eliminate diet soda from your life, a session of hypnotherapy can make getting rid of a bad habit that can affect your health and your weight much easier.  You can do this.  Avoid the weight and health problems of consuming diet soda with hypnosis and BE WELL.



     Do you often feel that you just don't have time for a thirty or even ten minute block of time for exercise?  If you are trying to lose or maintain weight, you may feel that it's of no use to try since you simply don't have time.  A recent study of more than 4,500 adults reported by Jessie X. Fan, PhD, professor of family and consumer studies at The University of Utah in Salt Lake City found that lack of larger blocks of time for exercise did not mean it was hopeless to try to lose or maintain weight.

    The researchers in the study found that intense, short bouts of moderate to more vigorous exercise was sufficient to help people lose or maintain weight.  Brisk walking every day or stair climbing were considered in the moderate to vigorous exercise category, 

     So no more excuses.  If you are short on time, set a goal of brief periods of as little as one minute at a time of vigorous exercise. If you sit at a desk all day, getting up once and hour to take a quick walk around the block or climb the stairs outside your office may be all you need to lose or maintain weight one minute at a time.  If you need some motivation to start doing brief periods of high-intensity exercise, hypnotherapy can help.  


    An article published in AMERICAN JOURNAL OF HEALTH PROMOTION reported on a study of 330 students by researchers at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.  The study compared students sleep habits and their body fat.  The primary finding was that regular sleep habits can help you keep slim.  The researchers identified consistent sleep habits as those in which the subject's bedtime and wake-up time varied by an hour or less each day.  They concluded that people with those consistent sleep habits including bedtimes and wake-up times had less body fat than those whose sleep habits were most erratic.

    The recommendation was that the best amount of time to sleep was six-and-a-half to eight-and-a-half hours per night.  If one of your New Year's resolutions was to go to bed earlier, sleep better or have more consistent sleep habits, hypnotherapy can be a valuable tool to help.  Your sleep habits affect your weight.  Improve them, have less body fat and BE WELL.


     Lauren McCullough, PhD epidemiologist at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, reported on a study some 3,000 women who exercised moderately for ten hours a week.  The women were both pre-menopausal and postmenopausal. The exercise included gardening and walking both considered in the moderate exercise category.  The conclusion of the study was that the moderate exercisers had a thirty percent lower risk for developing breast cancer than women who were sedentary.  Researchers believe that the risk lowers for those who exercise because in addition to causing the body to reduce body fat, exercise enhances cell repair and may increase antioxidants.

     If you need another reason to start exercising, cutting the risk of breast cancer could be a good one.  If you've been thinking you "should" start exercising but haven't, remember this study was done with women who exercise moderately.  If you need to get started and need some motivation, hypnotherapy can be of valuable tool to get moving, cut the risk of breast cancer and BE WELL.


  If you spend lots of time thinking of your next meal or snack, you are not alone.  Chronically overweight people often spend much of their time thinking of food and how and when they will eat next.  Ironically, when they do eat, they shove the food in with very little appreciation or enjoyment.  They get little pleasure from the process of eating.  Instead, they are just shoving in the food.

    Unfortunately, our lifestyles can discourage enjoying our meals or snacks.  We are often busy and in a hurry, so we skip breakfast, snack in the car on the way to work and cram in fast-food while checking messages on our phones.  We are not thinking consciously about what we are eating and get little satisfaction from the food we have just scarfed down.  

    A rushed, hurried lifestyle causes us to skip meals and then substitute with hurried meals and snacks.  Because we do not satisfy the brain's need for the joys and satisfaction of eating, we are soon craving again with constant feelings of deprivation.  Many experts believe one of the reasons French people have less weight problems is because they spend longer amounts of time eating their meals and find joy and satisfaction in their meals so they don't crave snacks.

    When we do eat, our minds are often distracted with personal and work problems, deadlines, and telephone messages and entertainment apps.  It's hard to tell if we are satisfied and full, if our minds are completely preoccupied with mental distractions.  So we may continue to eat because our minds are distracted.

     And we tend to be very fast eaters.  We were raised by parents and caretakers who were always rushed and encouraging children to hurry up and finish eating.  Our first grade school teachers told us to finish up quickly because it was time for the second graders to use the lunch room.  By our teen years, lunches were rushed in order to have more time hanging out with friends during lunch break.  By the time we are adults, eating quickly is the norm.  Even if we are full, our brains have not had time to register fullness, so we just keep right on stuffing in food.

     All of these factors can cause us to eat without awareness.  What can you do that will help you to enjoy food more and actually be satisfied and not continually craving?  The goal is to eat mindfully.  One way you can do that is by not using electronics, watching television or reading a book while eating.  How can your mind know if you are full, if it is totally distracted? Eating slowly to truly savor the taste and getting satisfaction of what you do eat can cause you to eat less.  Put your fork down between bites.  Really focus on what you are eating and it's wonderful taste so you can get true satisfaction out of what you eat and be satisfied with how much you eat.

    Hypnotherapy can help you to eat mindfully as a part of a weight loss session or program.  It can help you to stop cravings, enjoy what you do eat, reach your perfect weight and BE WELL.


 Still another reason to not smoke, eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and avoid environmental pollutants such as secondhand smoke.  Charles Emery, PhD, professor of psychology at The Ohio State University in Columbus Ohio,  reported on research on lung function and its influence on brain health.  The researchers followed health date on 832 people between the ages of 50 and 85 for almost twenty years.  They found that reduced lung function  due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) but also in otherwise healthy adults led to cognitive deterioration.  

   The researchers theorized that reduced oxygen in the blood due to poor lung function could slow down signals between cells in the brain.  If you need to get motivated to quit smoking, exercise regularly, avoid secondhand pollutants or exercise regularly, hypnosis can be a valuable tool to increase your chances for better brain health.


   A paper in the journal, HEALTH POLICY, reported that about 150,000 American men in the United States die prematurely each year from preventable causes.  This was a higher rate than in fifteen developed countries.  Among the most identified diseases causing the high rates of preventable disease in American men were diabetes, heart disease and prostate cancer.

    The magazine, MEN'S HEALTH, recommended studying some of the other developed countries which did not have such a high rate of male premature death.  Italian men make heart-healthy eating choices including a Mediterranean diet, olive oil and moderate amounts of red wine.  Italian men also smoke much less than they once did.  Japanese men drink green tea which has been identified as a help in fighting prostate cancer.  In Switzerland, men are much more apt to ride a bike or walk to work.  This activity may be an identifiable reason for the lower risk of diabetes in Swiss men.

    The men in those countries were all making good choices to take care of themselves and their health.  If you or the man in your life are ready to improve the chances for a long, full healthy life, it's time to eat well, quit smoking and even have a glass of red wine or a cup of green tea.  Hypnotherapy can help to make those changes so you can BE WELL.


      Most people are familiar with the term "osteoporosis" which describes the gradual age-related loss of bone.  Less familiar to most of us, is the term "sarcopenia" which is the age-related loss of strength, function and bone mass.  Symptoms of sarcopenia include, becoming weak, walking slowly, and falling more easily.  In addition, sufferers of sarcopenia are less likely to recover from illnesses and more likely to die,

   Michael J. Grossman, MD, a specialist in antiaging and regenerative medicine in Irvine, California, writes that this disease "generally starts at age 40.  By the time you're 50, you're losing 1% to 2% of your muscle mass every year."  Besides the symptoms of sarcopenia listed above, those  having this age-related muscle loss have more fat which can produce inflammation causing such chronic diseases as cancer and heart disease. Having less muscle, means a person burns less blood sugar (glucose) so you are at greater risk for developing or controlling diabetes.

    Dr. Grossman recommends a protein rich diet which includes a four ounce serving of chicken, turkey, fish or lean beef.  In addition, he recommends supplements including a daily vitamin D supplement in the 3,000 to 5,000 IU (international units) level,, 1,000 mg (milligrams) of omega- fatty acids with 400 mg of EPA and 300 mg of DHA taken twice daily and if you are exercising, three grams of the amino acid Creatine.  He recommends finding a doctor trained in antiaging medicine and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy to test hormone levels.

    To stop or reverse muscle loss, you should be doing both aerobic and resistance exercise.  Besides walking for lower-body strength, upper body strength can be increased with exercises such as ballroom dancing or playing tennis.  Lifting weights or resistance bands can also be used to strengthen the different muscle groups.

     If you are concerned about losing muscle mass or strength and functioning of your muscles, you may need to get motivated to add these recommendations into your lifestyle.  Hypnotherapy can be a valuable too to strengthen your muscles and BE WELL.


     If you have noticed that you tend to gain weight when you are really stressed out, you're not imagining the correlation. Andrew L. Rubman, ND, and contributing medical editor to DAILY HEALTH NEWS, confirms what you have suspected.  So why does stress make you fat?

    Rubman identifies the culprit as the hormone, cortisol.  When we are stressed, our bodies go into the fight-or-flight syndrome, which is the basis of how our bodies respond physiologically to stress.   The adrenal glands begin to produce the hormone in order to regulate the effects of insulin on blood sugar.  Add in poor dietary choices and ongoing stress can overload the body's system causing weight gain.

    The combination of high cortisol levels and dietary imbalances can be further aggravated by sleep problems and aging.  Chronically, waking up regularly in the middle of night to worry about finances, family or work problems can be an indicator that stress may affect your weight.  Dr. Rubman notes, "This may be your adrenal gland saying, "wake up", there is something wrong with your insulin-cortisol-blood sugar levels.  

    Dr. Rubman suggests a number of ways of managing blood sugar levels.  If you have symptoms of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) which may include:  anxiety, trembling, heart palpitations, or headaches  or high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) including fatigue, blurred vision, thirst or frequent urination, see your medical doctor for blood and urine tests. Under a physician's supervision, you may be prescribed medications or supplements including chromium, a fiber supplement such as glucomannan and high potency B vitamin 

    If you are concerned about gaining weight or preventing issues such as diabetes and heart disease, it is important to deal with the stresses in your life.  Develop tools to deal with the stresses in your life.  Nurture yourself by allowing your body to relax by mindful breathing or meditation.  Exercise is a wonderful way to deal with stress.  Hypnosis can be a powerful tool to deal with stress, motivate you to improve eating habits and exercise regularly.  Make those changes, deal with the stress, lose the weight and BE WELL>


    In recent years, sugar addiction particularly to soft drinks has become a common complaint among my clients.  This is not surprising.  A Scientific Statement in the AHA (American Heart Association) JOURNAL CIRCULATION reported that in the 2000s Americans increased their intake of sugar by an average of 22.2. teaspoons.  That is the equivalent of 355 calories most of it consumed in soft drinks.

    The statement identifies a large number of health problems caused by this excess sugar including:  weight gain, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, low levels of HDL cholesterol  which is the good cholesterol and increased risk for cardiovascular disease which includes stroke. Based on research at the University of Colorado Denver Health Sciences Center who analyzed health and diet data from more than 4,500 people who had no history of high blood pressure, the America Heart Association issued the following guidelines.  1) Women should eat no more than 100 calories of added sugar per day or six teaspoons.  2) Men should eat no more than 150 calories of added sugar or nine teaspoons.  Since one twelve ounce can of cola contains eight teaspoons of sugar or 150 calories even one soda is too much for a woman.

    Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, author of BEAT SUGAR ADDICTION NOW! (Fair Winds) says, "Eating too much sugar is an addiction.  Sugar gives you an initial high, you crash several hours later, and this leaves you wanting more sugar."  He has several recommendations that can help including: 1) using sugar substitutes such as stevia and erythritol which are combined in the products PureVia and Truvia, 2) Getting seven to nine hours of sleep which he says "optimizes energy, decreases appetite and slashes sugar cravings, 3) drinking water to stay hydrated, 4) cutting out excess caffein, 4) taking a multivitamin/mineral supplement since low levels of nutrients can trigger food cravings and 5) Eating whole foods including vegetables, whole grains, beans and meat which do not trigger sugar cravings

    If you need help making these changes, hypnosis can be a valuable tool. Beat your sugar addiction and BE WELL.


     Did you know belly fat is dangerous even when you have kept your overall body weight under control?  A study of more than 350,000 people published in THE NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE reported that a large waist can nearly double your risk of premature death.  Excess belly fat results in what we call an "apple" body shape.  Also known as visceral fat, it is stored in the abdominal cavity.  This is dangerous because it can wrap around or even invade internal organs including the heart.

   There are two types of belly fat.  There is soft belly fat and then the hard belly that is often called "having a beer belly."  The hard beer belly is the more dangerous of the two because people with hard belly fat have high levels of the inflammation marker C-reactive protein (CRP) which is a risk factor for heart disease.  Among other serious health conditions linked to belly fat are:  diabetes, migraines, cancer, dementia, and lung problems.

   So measure your waist just below the navel.  A good goal for women is 35 inches or less and 40 inches or less in men.  Unfortunately, there are no known ways for spot reducing just visceral fat.  Healthy overall weight loss includes:  1) eating healthy foods and watching portion size, eliminating junk and processed foods.  Void processed carbohydrates such as snacks, white bread, fruit juice and beer.  All these can cause a rapid spike in blood sugar that may increase belly fat. 2) Add aerobic exercise such as a 20 minute walk daily.  This will burn calories, reduce fat and increase metabolism. 3) Set your thermostat lower.  New research finds that sleeping in a cool temperature could increase your body's energy expenditure resulting in weight loss.  

    If you add these behaviors into your daily life, you should boost metabolism and lose weight including  the visceral belly fat that is so dangerous.  If you need motivation to eat well and add the aerobic exercise, hypnotherapy can be a valuable tool.  Use hypnosis, get rid of that belly fat and BE WELL.


     Have you ever thought about hypnosis as a tool for weight management?  A University of Connecticut study conducted in 1997 found that hypnosis can play a significant role in managing weight.  The researchers reported that test subjects who used only weight-loss methods such as diet lost an average of six pounds during the testing period.  Those who also used hypnosis lost an average of fifteen pounds.  In addition, those who used hypnosis kept the pounds off for two years following the therapy.  

    I always tell my clients, hypnosis is not magic.  If you continue to do exactly the same things, you are going to get the same result.  But hypnosis can be a great tool to motivate behavioral changes to include exercise and eating and nutrition habits. The hypnotherapist's suggestions must be personalized to meet each individual client's needs.  Each hypnotherapist has there own way of establishing those needs.  I require an hour and a half clinical interview with the client to learn about personal and family behavior around eating and movement.  We discuss the client's motivation to make a change and create a plan of how they want to eat, drink and move that will allow goals to be met.

    The hypnosis session will include positive, beneficial suggestions based on the clinical interview and the client's plan.  If you want to get motivated to make changes in your weight or changes in your eating or exercise behaviors, hypnosis can be a valuable tool to BE WELL.



   You may not have heard the term "social contagion" before.  But I expect you have observed its influence.  New scientific studies are identifying how our family and friends can influence the choices we make.  Some choices are quite obvious like choosing where we live or where we work.  But less obvious choices are also often the result of the impact of the people we are around .

     Choices like whether we stay married or divorce, whether we exercise and eat well or become obese, whether we have professional success or failure are often highly influenced by those around us. In fact, research indicates that behavior and emotions are extremely contagious.  This might help to explain why before the Great Recession millions of people bought houses they could not afford.

    Nicholas A, Christakis, MD, PhD, was named one of one hundred most influential people in the world by TIME magazine in 2009 for his work on social contagion.    With his colleague, political scientist, James Fowler, PhD, he researched the issue of overeating and obesity which has been identified at epidemic levels in the United States.  He found that nine states in the USA report that more than 30 percent of their residents are obese.  Christakis and Fowler used a study that had been done in Framingham, Massachusetts over thirty years.  This tracked the details of thousands of people and their connections and how they interacted.  The researchers found that the spread of obesity followed a pattern similar to the way the flu spread.  The Framingham study indicated that if you had a family member or friend who was obese, your risk of becoming obese was 45% higher.  Even if a friend of a friend was obese, it increased your risk of obesity by 25%.  So the health of your extended social network is a key factor in determining your health.

     The researchers went on to study other issues moving through human networks like suicide, sexual practices, back pain and suicide.  They found that there were "Three Degrees of Influence"  That choices and actions could be influenced clear out to friends' friends' friends. Issues like divorce are considered so personal but the ripple effect of social contagion found that if you have a friend divorcing, that increases the likelihood that you will divorce by around 147%.  

     Christakis and Fowler found that behaviors such as smoking and overeating, can be influenced by friends who live hundreds of miles away.  Obviously individual thinking, cultural upbringing and genetics all contribute to our behavior, but this research found that social contagion is also a power influence.  If you socialize with family and friends who are obese, it can change your idea of what is acceptable body size.  If you are around heavy smokers or drinkers, you may allow yourself those options as well.

    So what can you do with this information?  Do NOT abandon friends and family.  Know that the benefits of being connected are far more important than the costs.  The researchers found that the most consistently happy group of people were those who had lots of friends.  But  remember your actions and choices can influence others as well.  So ask what you can do for those in your group of family and friends.  When you quit smoking, start exercising or lose weight,  your influence will benefit not only you, but your friends and family as well.

      If you need help to make those changes, hypnosis can help you quit smoking, lose weight or get motivated to make some other positive change.  Use hypnosis and BE WELL.