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

The upside of peer pressure: social networks help kids exercise more

May 28, 2012, TIME
By Alice Park

Peer pressure can be a powerful force, and sometimes a positive one. For example, hanging out with active peers may lead kids to exercise more, making a child’s social network a potential vehicle for promoting healthy habits and reducing obesity. Continue reading