Is childhood obesity contagious?

July 11, 2013, Pew Research Center.org

By Rich Morin

Every parent knows that young children catch lots of things at school: chicken pox, the flu and, of course, the annual back-to-school cold.

Now there’s evidence that kids can catch something else from their classmates:  obesity.

Of course there isn’t a fat virus, or at least one we know about. But a research team from the University of Arkansas has tracked the pattern of weight gains and obesity among 341,876 elementary school students and found that the typical student gained extra pounds in grades with a larger share of obese classmates but slimmed down when they were in classes with a larger proportion of skinny kids. Continue reading