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Egocentric social networks, lifestyle behaviors, and body size in the Asian Community Health Initiative (CHI) cohort

Social networks have been shown to influence lifestyle behaviors in non-Latinx white (NLW) populations. We examined their influence in Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) women. We included 477 AANHPI women from the Asian Community Health Initiative Study who provided egocentric (degree, density, composition) and epidemiologic (size, types of ties) social network data and data on alcohol intake, physical activity, smoking, diet, and body size. We used logistic regression to evaluate associations of social network measures and dichotomous outcomes, and linear regression for continuous outcomes. In multivariable-adjusted analyses, higher degree and/or proportion of friends were significantly related to higher Western diet, higher odds of any alcohol consumption, and lower odds of physical inactivity and body mass index (BMI)≥23 kg/m2. Additionally, a higher proportion of NLW in women’s networks was related to lower Asian diet but also lower waist size. Community participation was related to higher Western diet and lower Asian diet. By contrast, degree and/or proportion of relatives were positively related to BMI, waist size and to a higher odds of BMI≥23 kg/m2 and of ever smoking 100 cigarettes. Being married was related to fewer alcoholic drinks per week and higher Asian diet. A higher density of relationships with frequent contact was also associated with higher Asian diet. AANHPI women with larger proportions of friends and NLWs in their networks had more Western health behaviors and smaller body size. Norms for health behaviors and body size may be influenced by the size, composition, and structure of social networks, relevant to chronic disease prevention.

Authors: Kroenke CH; Le GM; Conroy SM; Canchola AJ; Shariff-Marco S; Gomez SL

PLoS ONE. 2020;15(5):e0232239. Epub 2020-05-06.

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