Heart-healthy lifestyles can spread through social networks

Nov. 19, 2013, Medical Xpress

Heart-healthy lifestyles can be contagious to your family and friends.

In a late-breaking clinical trial presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2013, people in social networks who received an intervention to tackle their weight problems together lost an average 6½ pounds more and trimmed an extra 1¼ inches from their waists compared with those who received standard individual care. In addition to weight and waistline benefits, the social network intervention also saw 4-5 mmHg drops in systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Benefits lasted beyond the 10 month program up to even six months after.

Researchers with the Randomized Trial of Social Network Lifestyle Intervention for Obesity assigned groups of 2-8 friends and family members per group into ‘microclinic’ social network clusters to attend weekly social and health activity sessions focused on physical activity, nutrition, and health education for 10 months in rural Kentucky, where medical care is limited and rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease are high. Continue reading

In many families, exercise is by appointment only

Feb. 27, 2013, NPR [Shots Blog]

By Jane Greenhalgh and Patti Neighmond

Most families know that their kids need to exercise. In a poll that NPR recently conducted with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, practically all of the parents surveyed said it’s important for their kids to exercise. But about one-third of them said that can be difficult.

Take Yvonne Condes of Los Angeles: It falls on her, like many parents across the country, to make sure her kids get enough exercise every day. Federal health officials recommend at least one hour of daily exercise for children and teens. But many public schools have reduced or completely cut physical education classes because of budget constraints. Continue reading