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The Company You Keep

Solid scientific evidence shows that social relationships — both quantity and quality — affect a range of health outcomes, including mental health, physical health, and health-related behavior. For better and for worse, from childhood and throughout life, the company you keep fosters a cumulative advantage or disadvantage to your health and wellness.

Parents have the greatest influence on children’s health, peers become particularly important in adolescence, intimate partners become most important in adulthood, and adult children take an elevated role in later life.

Negative social influences, like your relationships with risk-taking peers as an adolescent, might have contributed to risk-taking behavior of your own at that time in your life. Having an overweight spouse or overweight friends now might be increasing your own likelihood of being overweight. On the other hand, positive social influences can be viewed as preventive medicine. When you're surrounded by many healthy and happy people, you're more likely to be healthy and happy, too!

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