In one of the courses I teach, Human Growth and Development, a recurring topic is obesity: its causes, consequences, and “cures.” From infancy and childhood and then on through adolescence, it’s a hot topic. When we reach the young and middle adulthood material, there it is again. When we discuss possible reasons for this “epidemic,” causes such as fast food, a sedentary lifestyle, air conditioned homes, television, video games, chubby parents, and so forth are mentioned. So I was a little surprised and somewhat intrigued by the study that came out earlier this week that found friendship to be  related to obesity more than family history, genetics, eating and exercise habits of parents…more than anything, in fact.

Yesterday I had some experiences that have me thinking that perhaps there’s some truth to this study. My college roommate who now lives in Montana was visiting SC, and she decided to spend the weekend with me. Wanting to make every minute memorable, we decided to go to Charleston and do something we’ve talked about since last summer: walk across the Arthur Ravenel Bridge. I’ve walked/jogged the BRIDGE more than twenty years in the annual Bridge Run, but until last year, conquering this phenomenal concrete and steel structure was only possible (except by vehicle) during the annual event itself. Now there’s a walkway on the side of the bridge that’s specifically for pedestrians and bikers.

To make a long story short, we did it! We walked briskly from Mt. Pleasant to Charleston and back again, taking stock of all the sights and sounds along the way, including a man who happily informed us that it was his 62nd birthday. After walking, we shopped, ate lunch, and then shopped some more. While narrowing down our selections at TJ Maxx, Shirley commented, “I know you’ll think it’s crazy, but I feel like I want to do the bridge again. Then I won’t feel so guilty about that huge brownie and ice cream that I devoured at Applebee’s.” Since it was getting late, we didn’t go the entire distance the second time across, but by our computations, we easily walked and talked nine miles that day.

We’ve been friends since college, and weight is something that we often discuss (along with aging, husbands, children, Harry Potter, religion, politics, flowers, and just about anything else that pops up). Yesterday we discussed the obesity study findings and agreed that there could be some truth to them. She keeps me in line and vice versa. We like being thin (her) to average (me) and often discuss our exercise habits and food choices. Except for that scrumptious, calorie-laden, fat-filled brownie and ice cream, we ate semi-wisely. Then we walked…and walked some more.

I can’t speak for all friends, of course, but for Shirley and Jayne, the obesity study has some truth.