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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Friends united by fat!



Here is some more weird news about obesity. According to an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine, obesity tends to occur almost in synchrony within the same group of friends, even if they are in another country. Here is a news article on this.

If you are the snooty sort who likes to access the original research paper, here is how the authors say they did the study:
"We graphed the network with the use of the Kamada–Kawai algorithm in Pajek software. We generated videos of the network by means of the Social Network Image Animator (known as SoNIA). We examined whether our data conformed to theoretical network models such as the small-world,10 scale-free, and hierarchical types (see the Supplementary Appendix, available with the full text of this article at www.nejm.org)."
Understood, na? Easy! SoNIA, and yet, SoFa!

Want more? Here, take this:

"The use of a time-lagged dependent variable (lagged to the previous examination) eliminated serial correlation in the errors (evaluated with a Lagrange multiplier test) and also substantially controlled for the ego's genetic endowment and any intrinsic, stable predisposition to obesity. The use of a lagged independent variable for an alter's weight status controlled for homophily. The key variable of interest was an alter's obesity at time t+1. A significant coefficient for this variable would suggest either that an alter's weight affected an ego's weight or that an ego and an alter experienced contemporaneous events affecting both their weights. We estimated these models in varied ego–alter pair types."

Capital, my dear chaps! I couldn't have put it better, myself! Nothing does the old noodle as much good as a good, invigorating read of the NEJM's original scientific papers! Of course, for those surgeons who are too lazy to read such articles, there is always this blog, or the wires!

7 comments:

Voracious Blog Reader said...

//
The use of a time-lagged dependent variable ....
//

Boy...that sent me into a state of deep stress for not understanding it.

Voracious Blog Reader

B. Ramana said...

Hey, VBL!
Are you a damsel in distress? ;-)
That post was supposed to be funny. Though I understand how difficult it may be for ornery Muggle folk to understand!
;-)

Thiru said...

Interesting findings! It makes me wonder! in a similar fashion... does people dream and set their ambitions depending on the crowd they move in?!

B. Ramana said...

Thiru,
Maybe in the near future they will publish a study that will get the Nobel Prize for Medicine. A study that will prove that obesity is caused by a germ that affects the satiety center of the hypothalamus. All you will need to reduce weight is to take some new antibiotics!

Thiru said...

Is that a joke?!

B. Ramana said...

Thiru,
Only partly!
When I was a med student long back, we were taught that duodenal ulcers are a result of 'hurry, worry and curry', to be treated in resistant cases with major surgery. We had to mug up the names of 50 different surgeons who had made modifications of this or that procedure. Today, we treat all ulcers with antibiotics, following the Nobel-winning discovery that bugs are responsible for ulcers. In my salad days, if I had answered in my exams that the treatment of ulcers was antibiotics, I would have been failed for life!
So, take me seriously even when I am in jest! ;-)

Thiru said...

Oh! I can see what you mean! but I doubt on whether the same can happen for obesity. But anyway lets wait and see.