Social network characteristics and body mass index in an elderly Korean population

Won Joon Lee, Yoosik Youm, Yumie Rhee, Yeong Ran Park, Sang Hui Chu, Hyeon Chang Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objectives: Research has shown that obesity appears to spread through social ties. However, the association between other characteristics of social networks and obesity is unclear. This study aimed to identify the association between social network characteristics and body mass index (BMI, kg/m2) in an elderly Korean population. Methods: This cross-sectional study analyzed data from 657 Koreans (273 men, 384 women) aged 60 years or older who participated in the Korean Social Life, Health, and Aging Project. Network size is a count of the number of friends. Density of communication network is the number of connections in the social network reported as a fraction of the total links possible in the personal (ego-centric) network. Average frequency of communication (or meeting) measures how often network members communicate (or meet) each other. The association of each social network measure with BMI was investigated by multiple linear regression analysis. Results: After adjusting for potential confounders, the men with lower density (<0.71) and higher network size (4-6) had the higher BMI (β=1.089, p=0.037) compared to the men with higher density (>0.83) and lower size (1-2), but not in the women (p=0.393). The lowest tertile of communication frequency was associated with higher BMI in the women (β=0.885, p=0.049), but not in the men (p=0.140). Conclusions: Our study suggests that social network structure (network size and density) and activation (communication frequency and meeting frequency) are associated with obesity among the elderly. There may also be gender differences in this association.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)336-345
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Preventive Medicine and Public Health
Volume46
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Nov

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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