Here at the Center for Consumer Freedom, we've seen researchers twist themselves into pretzels to avoid admitting that personal responsibility is key to avoiding obesity. But today's example from USA Today just might take the cake (so to speak):

The more obese friends you have, the more likely you are to become obese, a new study suggests. This confirms previous research that gaining weight may be socially contagious.

The research also shows that if nothing changes significantly in the environment and culture in the USA, about 42% of adults will be obese in about 40 years and then the obesity rate will level off. …

"We find that having four obese friends doubled people's chance of becoming obese compared to people with no obese friends," says Alison Hill, the study's lead author and a Harvard researcher.

Yes, Harvard University is now pushing the canard that obesity is contagious, like pink eye or the flu. Incredibly, a previous Harvard study published in 2007 found the exact same "results."

The ludicrous idea of obesity as a social contagion, of course, lends support to the notion that we should treat it as a “disease.” Does this mean we have an obesity plague? Should we quarantine obese people? Divide restaurants into "obese" and "non-obese" sections? Let people take "fat days" off from work? We're just spitballing here.

One of the study's researchers admits: "Of course, other lifestyle factors, such as diet and physical activity, have a huge impact on weight gain." But those factors could have easily been figured out by people who don't have access to huge research grants. Common sense doesn’t require a Ph.D.