Does Your Social Network Influence Your Health?

Your social network might influence your health, because research has found that a person is generally as healthy as his or her family members or closest friends. The Framington Heart Study followed a group of 12,067 people in Framington, Massachusetts, from 1971 through 2003, and it found that both positive and negative health behaviors were similar among people within social networks. People who quit smoking were 36% more likely to be successful if a close friend also quit and were 67% more likely to quit if their spouses also did. Obesity was influenced by social network as well, with people being 57% more likely to be obese if a close friend also was obese.

More about social network influence:

  • Eating with a group of seven people or more increases the amount of food a person consumes by 96% compared with eating alone.

  • People are 8% more likely to feel happy if their spouses report feeling happy and 14% more likely if their siblings are happy.

  • About 45% of all new hires are people who had a recommendation from someone already working at the company.
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Discussion Comments


After reading these tidbits of information, not only have I come to the conclusion that a social network can influence your health, but it can influence a lot of other things. For example, your network can have an impact on your study habits, how productive you are, and the choices that you make, both good and bad.


In reference to the first bullet point, I have actually had a similar experience with food. More than often, if I am eating out by myself, I don't eat as much as opposed to when I'm out with friends. Just my opinion, but I think one of the main reasons why this is the case is due to the fact that the food they're ordering looks appetizing as well, and in a way, it influences you to eat more.


In my opinion, one reason why a social network influences someone's health is because you can either intentionally or unintentionally give into peer pressure. This is especially true for the second to last sentence, where it talks about the effects of smoking.

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