Just this week a study released by Stanford School of Medicine revealed that family members of bypass surgery patients tend to lose weight as a result of the patients’ success and influence.  This could not be better news for so many Americans who continue to struggle with their weight and lack adequate positive influences around them throughout their daily lives.

For years I have been an avid advocate of people becoming physically fit, maintaining optimum health and realizing the ultimate benefits of total body and mind wellness.  Though I am a huge proponent of obtaining that good health through tried-and-true age-old good nutrition, exercise and great relationships, I know that for some people surgery is the only option.

Regardless of whether it is through surgery, multiple trips to the gym or being on a strict diet of all things green and raw – the bottom line is this:  if you are among others who value their personal wellbeing, you will likely end up doing or continue to do the same.

I’ve said this before and will continue to hold this viewpoint throughout my career (and beyond) that people should remain among those who provide the most positive health influences.  In my practice of social media medicine there have been countless cases of women who are in relationships with men who do not want to join them in their fitness endeavors.  There are also plenty of men who struggle with maintaining their physical and mental health only to be blocked by the negative influence of their partner.  Parents have an even greater responsibility to provide their children with an atmosphere that fosters strong and healthy habits of portion control, regular exercise and self-worth.  Nothing demonstrates this better than the example of how one is behaving around others.

As the study indicates, the ripple effect that comes from one family member embarking on a journey of weight-loss or improved health clearly benefits everyone around them.  Dr. John Morton, Director of Bariatric Surgery at the Stanford School of Medicine, substantiated this by saying “If you have a committed and involved family, you’re going to have better outcomes for the patient, and also, by the same token, the family members can have a collateral benefit.”

The thirty-five participants in Stanford’s study who had undergone bariatric surgery were followed closely for a year.  Their family members were also being monitored.  After eight sessions of nutrition counseling the family members and patients were then observed to learn whether there was an impact as a result of the surgery and corresponding changed behaviors.  What resulted was an unprecedented improvement in weight and body mass for everyone.  Patients lost the expected average of about 100 pounds but others in the household also experienced positive change, with a drop in body mass of almost 2 percentage points on average, coupled with a mean weight loss of about 10 pounds.  Patients’ average body mass went from 48.7 to 33.3.

No matter what measure one takes to improve oneself, the proof is clear – there will be an impact on others around them.  This concept goes hand-in-hand with much of what I tend to preach about life and living.  We should stay in healthy relationships, we should value our bodies, we need to place a great amount of emphasis on eating right and moving often and if we find ourselves in situations where we are slacking – it is our duty to get right back on track.  It all comes back around to this:  live and be well and do it among others who emulate the same great habits so you continue to do the same.