I have already made the calls to my family and friends.

Put down the Cheetos, Iíve insisted. Do it now and do it for me.

Over the past year, my exercise habits have become, and I say this with shame, increasingly non-existent, which explains the extra weight. I blame it on the job. The long hours. The stress. The fact that at the end of the day Iím too tired to lift a spatula, much less a dumbbell.

It doesnít help, of course, that the people I work with enjoy snacking, and that a certain woman, who I feel sure despises me, brings donuts, cookies and all things fattening into the office on a daily basis.

When this do-gooder loudly announces to the staff that sheís brought cheesecake for everyone to enjoy (something she did three days ago), I slam my office door and weep.

But thereís hope.

A recent study conducted by the University of California, San Diego, discovered that a personís weight is directly related to those they associate with. In other words, the fatter your family and friends are, the fatter you, too, will become.

The study found that a personís likelihood of becoming obese went up 57 percent if a friend gained weight, 40 percent if a sibling did and 37 percent if a spouse did.

A powerful reminder to choose your friends wisely.

Researchers also discovered the connection has less to do with similar eating and exercise habits of those a person associates with and more about what a person deems an acceptable weight.

The good news is that researchers are not encouraging people to sever their ties with those closest to them. Having a lot of friends, they say, is a good thing - if not for your waistline, then for your mental well being. Itís better to be chubby, I guess, than lonely.

In other news, a second earth-shattering study has recently verified what people the world over already knew - women prefer good-looking men to ugly ones.

Go figure.

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that muscular men got more action than their less-chiseled peers - even those who made a low income.

Give it up for the blue-collar beefcakes.

The study, published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, compared muscles in men to elaborate tail feathers in male peacocks, stating that both are used to attract females on the hunt for ďa virile mate.Ē

The upside for the skinny guy is that muscle-y dudes have better luck scoring one-night stands, but itís the scrawny guys who get the wife.

Now thatís what I call justice.

Sara Vanden Berge is News Editor for the Empire-Tribune. She can be reached at sara.vandenberge@empiretribune.com. Her work number is 968-2379, ext. 240.