New research has provided more evidence that relationships affect health. The researchers examined data from four large-scale studies that collectively followed thousands of Americans over time.
One of the studies followed adolescents, another followed young-to-mid-adults (aged 25-64), and the last two followed older adults (aged 50+), resulting in more than 14,000 participants across the lifespan.
Each study measured various aspects of individuals’ social relationships, such as social support (e.g., reliability of family members), social integration (e.g., frequency of contact with other people), and social strain (e.g., frequency of criticism from friends).Each study also included health outcome measures such as blood pressure, waist circumference, and body mass
I – Word Understanding
Social support – Someone who cared for
Social integration – Individuals that are related to one another in a society
II – Have Your Say
1. What are the changes happened to you when you’re in relationship?
2. Does your bad habit lessen when you’re in a relationship?
3. How does your relationship affect your health?
I – Here are five highlights:
1. People (including adolescents!) had lower blood pressure when they spent more (vs. less) time with other people (i.e., were more socially integrated).
2. Adolescents were less likely to be obese when they spent more (vs. less) time with other people (i.e., were more socially integrated).
3. Adults were less likely to be obese when they had more (vs. less) social support.
4. Alternatively, adults were more likely to be obese when they had more (vs. less) social strain. These obesity findings held even when the researchers took into account whether or not people smoked, exercised, drank alcohol, had diabetes, were stressed, and took certain medications.
5.Older adults were more likely to develop hypertension (high blood pressure) if they spent less time with other people (i.e., were less socially integrated). AND, the link between hypertension and (lack of) social integration was STRONGER than the link between hypertension and diabetes (a known risk factor for hypertension).