A recent study showed obesity can spread from friend to friend much like a virus. Now, scientests believe that social networks not only can spread diseases, like the common cold, but also may influence many types of behavior – negative and positive – which then affect an individual’s health, as well as a community’s.
Obesity – Smoking – Depression – Friends – Eating Disorders – Medicine and Health – New York Times
IN a way it all seems so obvious. Your friend found a lump in her breast, so you have that long-delayed mammogram. One by one your friends stop smoking, so you stop, too. Of course people are affected by their friends’ habits and their health.
But what seems obvious in the abstract can lead to surprising findings. A recent study found that obesity can spread from friend to friend much like a virus. When one person gains weight, close friends tend to gain weight, too
The study, published recently in The New England Journal of Medicine,
involved a detailed analysis of a large social network of 12,067 people
who had been closely followed for 32 years, from 1971 to 2003.