How social networks and relationships can affect your health
Eventually we'll know who’s at risk weight gain, heart attack and diabetes by looking at the outcomes of a person’s friends. In this video, HealthMaker James Fowler, PhD, professor of medical genetics and political science at UCSD, explains.
I think we're going to see a revolution in this decade in terms of how we use friends. [MUSIC PLAYING]
We're going to be using friends data to do risk prediction. We're going to do a much better job of figuring out who is at risk and who's not at risk for certain outcomes,
like weight gain, or heart attack, diabetes, by looking at the outcomes of a person's friends.
And by having a much better ability to predict who's at risk, we'll be able to focus like a laser beam our resources on those individuals
to try to get this magnifying effect of network. So-- so friends as data is one thing that is going to be more utilized over the course
of the next 10 years. We also have, um, friends as motivators. So I think increasingly, what you're going to see,
for example, are health coaching programs are going to be oriented towards getting friends and family involved. You might even see health coaches actively
engaging not just their clients, but their clients social network in order to try and motivate and reinforce,
um, you know, positive behavior change. We already know that coaching works. But I think we could probably make it much more effective by bringing friends in.
And there's some experimental evidence that this is true, that people would diet together do better than people diet alone. And close friends dieting together better than--
than acquaintances dieting together. This is work by [INAUDIBLE] at Brown University. So I think you're going to see more of this online,
utilizing these social connections to recommend people that you get involved whenever you're trying to make a positive, uh, change.
And then the thing that I think is the most important thing is just friends as multipliers, realizing that there are some people who are highly influential.
And so it pays to really get those individuals on board earlier and to invest more resources in them in order
to try to change their behavior. Because when you change them, you're not just changing them. You're changing, in some cases, dozens and hundreds of other people.
And we're actively engaged in this. It's-- it's really difficult, um, to, again,
to bring together the online data, uh, in terms of healthy online data and in terms of social. And so our early research has been
in things outside of health, like in terms of voting. But in that early research, we're-- we're showing that
a single message on Facebook can change the real behavior of hundreds of thousands of people. And I'm hopeful that-- that just like we've
been able to do this for voting, we're going to be able to do this for health. [HEART BEAT]
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