How colleagues can help you lose weight

People who work together could find the approach beneficial when attempting to lose weight. New research published in the journal Obesity has suggested that shedding the pounds can be somewhat contagious, with teammates being able to influence each other to maintain a healthier lifestyle.

Investigators from the Miriam Hospital's Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center and the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University discovered that good practice can have a rippling effect in a group scenario, with participants who lost the most weight claiming their friends played an important role in their achievement.

In addition, those who worked as a team tended to see the same results when taking part in a weight-loss programme.

Tricia Leahey of the Miriam Hospital and Alpert Medical School said: "We know that obesity can be socially contagious, but now we know that social networks play a significant role in weight loss as well."

Ms Leahey added this trend may be explained by mates helping to set expectations, offering encouragement and providing accountability.

Dr Emma Short, Chartered Psychologist, commented: "For a long time research has indicated that the two factors that are most reliably linked with successful weight loss are social support and the monitoring of weight loss.

"We can speculate that this is due to the support gained from others engaged in the same activity with the same goals who share your successes.

"It may also be as simply because most people respond well to positive reinforcement of their actions, whereas criticism is less likely to reinforce behaviour. So being encouraged by people who are in it together will help most people lose weight."