My wife watched me going through my homepage one night and stated that it looks a lot like facebook. No surprise there, but my mind went down this convoluted path from FB look a like to the social media/weightloss site that is MFP. "Friends" both active and supportive or not, and the...clamoring...for friends in the first two sub-forums, for support/motivation/socialization and what have you. I thought this interesting in light of this tidbit.
Researchers from Harvard and the University of California investigated 12,067 people who had been evaluated medically on multiple occasions from 1971 to 2003 as part of the Framingham Heart Study. They found that if one sibling became obese during the study, the chance that another sibling would become obese increased by 40%. Genetics might account for some of the parallel weight gain in siblings, but not for the fact that if a spouse became obese, the likelihood that the other spouse would follow suit jumped by 37%. Shared meals and other lifestyle habits might explain that link, but the scientists also found that if a person had a friend who became obese, his chance of growing obese rose by 57%.
The impact of networks depended more on social status than physical proximity; obesity in a neighbor had much less influence than obesity in a friend, regardless of how far away the friend lived. Friends of the same sex were particularly influential; a man who had a male friend who became obese experienced a 100% increase in his own chance of becoming obese. And when two people regarded their friendship as mutual, obesity in one member of the pair increased the other's likelihood of becoming obese by a staggering 171%.
Social-network science is much newer than epidemiology, and its eventual impact on medicine remains uncertain. The statistical methodology used in the Framingham research on obesity and happiness has come under fire. Still, the studies raise the intriguing possibility that noninfectious phenomena can spread across communities through social networks, and researchers have added alcohol consumption and depression to the list of things that may be affected by social networks.
It's a fairly short read, no heavy lifting required. Thoughts?