New research shows that social connections have an impact on health and well being. Healthy food and exercise are important, but loneliness may have a negative impact on your health.

Social Connections Have an Impact on Health and Well BeingTeens who believe they are socially isolated have a 27 percent increased risk of inflammation than their peers who do not feel isolated.

“It is as important to encourage individuals to build broad and good social relationships and increase social skills, interacting with others” as it is to encourage them to eat a healthy diet and be physically active, said study author Yang Claire Yang, a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Participants in the study had lower health risks when they were socially connected with family or friends. The figures for teens were interesting – in addition to the statistics on inflammation, those who were socially integrated were 48 percent less likely to be obese than those who felt isolated.  Among older adults, 54 percent were less likely to have high blood pressure when they were socially integrated.

“It seems that being socially connected, having a decent-size social network and also gaining support from the network — the quality as well as the quantity of the relationships — matter a great deal,” Yang said.

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