How do childhood friendships affect health?
Did you have a lot of childhood friends that you played with a lot? If so, this may have strengthened your health. Researchers have now found that spending time with friends in childhood seems to have a positive impact on human health.
Scientists at Texas Tech University and the University of Pittsburgh found that spending time with friends in childhood had a positive impact on health in later life. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Psychological Science".
Doctors examine 257 male subjects
Many previous studies have suggested that close relationships in adulthood can promote physical health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. To find out whether childhood relationships had the same effect on health, the researchers examined a total of 257 boys aged six.
Parents of the participants were interviewed
The subjects were medically monitored up to the age of 16. During the study, the researchers also asked participants' parents about how much time their children spent with their friends over an average week. The physicians also collected data on the individual characteristics of the participants, such as socio-economic status in childhood and physical health in childhood and adulthood.
What did the study reveal?
After analyzing the data, the experts found that boys who spent more time with their childhood and adolescent friends had healthier blood pressure and a better body mass index (BMI) at age 32. In other words, those less likely to develop excess weight and obesity. The results were preserved even after taking other factors into account, such as physical health in childhood and social integration in adulthood, the authors of the study explain.
Childhood friends have a positive impact on health
The results of the study suggest that our early social life can have a (minor) protective impact on our physical health in adulthood, the researchers say. This shows that not only our caregivers or financial circumstances, but also our friends can improve or protect health, explains psychologist and study author Jenny Cundiff from Texas Tech University.
The results are clear and reliable
The studies, which were carried out over a period of 16 years, cannot be explained by other potentially influencing factors. This strengthens confidence in the resilience of the results, the doctor adds. The investigation was by no means a simple experiment, rather it was a well-controlled longitudinal study in a diverse sample of participants.
Early integration into society is recommended
The results provide evidence that early integration into society regardless of a number of other factors - such as the person's personality, childhood weight, and family social status - has a positive impact on human health, adds Cundiff . (as)