If obesity is contagious, so is stupidity (“Friendship at heart of obesity; Overweight? Pals may play key role, researchers say,” Page 1, July 26).

By claiming that people catch obesity from their friends and family, a recent study not only defies logic but removes any notion of personal responsibility from the obesity debate. Alleging that fat is contagious (like flu or polio) moves weight loss from an individual responsibility to a social burden. This opens the door to lawsuits and government regulation, lends credibility to public officials who want to ban junk foods outright, and supports health activists who campaign for Twinkie taxes and food service zoning limitations.

If “second-hand obesity” is as infectious as the latest study claims, how long until sit-down restaurants offer “obese” and “non-obese” sections?