The study showed social circles can influence a person to become obese, suggesting the risk of becoming overweight increases if one moves to an area with a high rate of obesity, the Daily Mail reported. Social contagion in obesity means if more people around you are obese, then that may increase your own chances of becoming obese. Subconsciously, you are affected by what people around you are doing, said Ashlesha Datar at the University of Southern California. If you move to a community where a sedentary lifestyle is the norm, you join that. There is this social influence, Datar said.