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Ask Doctor K: Family and friends can influence weight

Ask Doctor K: Family and friends can influence weight
By Anthony L. Komaroff, M.D. Published: July 22, 2014

DEAR DOCTOR K: I’ve gained several pounds since getting married. My husband thinks he is supportive of my weight-loss efforts, but he doesn’t exercise or make healthy food choices himself. How can I lose weight without my husband’s support?

DEAR READER: Each of us is the person most responsible for living a healthy lifestyle. But we’re not islands when it comes to our weight, and family and friends can profoundly influence what we do. That’s the message in the new book “Thinfluence,” written by my Harvard colleagues Dr. Walter Willett and Dr. Malissa Wood, with Dan Childs. (You can learn more about this book on my website, As explained in the book, our personal choices are enmeshed within a web of interconnected factors. They include your family, friends, co-workers and community.

These factors have played a role in getting you to your current weight — and they will have a role in how you move forward.

In “Thinfluence,” the authors teach you how to recognize different attitudes that prevail in families. They explain how these attitudes impact your weight, and they teach you how to change the dynamic. You can enlist your family and friends to help you — and discourage them from making it harder. For example, your husband may fall into the “audience member” category.

A typical audience member may say: “You eat your salad and go on your run. I’m proud of you! Meanwhile, I’m going to have my steak and watch TV.” By encouraging you with his words, your husband may believe he is supporting your effort.

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