Social support weighs in

RAND Health researchers published an article which found, as stated in their news release, "a neighborhood's social cohesion and social controls can influence obesity among young people." High levels of social support have been found to influence the health issues associated with obesity in adults. This latest study examined similar social networks in neighborhoods across Los Angeles and their possible impact on adolescent obesity. For purposes of the study, the researchers characterized high degree of social support as occurring in,
a close-knit community; adults who children look up to; people willing to help neighbors; neighbors who get along; adults who watch out to see that children are safe; neighbors who share the same values; adults who will take action if they see a child hanging out; adults who will do something if a youngster is defacing property with graffiti; and people who will scold a child showing disrespect.
While acknowledging other factors also influence children's weight (e.g., metabolic), they found a social environment with access to parks and playgrounds, with an overall safe environment where outside activities can occur were important elements in children's health. Physical isolation contributes to obesity.

Collective efficacy and obesity: The potential influence of social factors on health
The article was published in Social Science & Medicine, Volume 62, Issue 3 , February 2006, Pages 769-778.
The news release and the abstract are available online.



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