As your friends grow fat and happy (or not), so do your own odds of each increase, says a fascinating new study. This might seem to be restating the obvious, but we rarely see it quantified or illustrated this dynamically.
How the study evolved is also a fascinating story involving two enterprising researchers who produced new renditions of unused data found in dusty old records from the Framingham Heart Study, one of the largest long-term efforts to track thousands of participants for cardiac risk starting in 1948.
All of it is highly relevant to we of the almost-aging. Today we get, as they didn't back then, that these very same cardiac risks factor out far beyond the heart to sustaining healthy bodies and brains as we age. Today we know (or some of us do) that lifestyle change can hugely reduce our risk for other unhappy endings such as Alzheimer's too. And today we are really beginning to see how often healthy habits can even trump our genes. If you had any doubt about any of that, data like this will help you believe it.
But in particular, this latest finding from Framingham adds a vivid picture of how fast and how pervasively health habits propagate between people. It's almost as if Mother Nature was using Twitter and Facebook unseen. Read the whole story and see its great graphics (from Wired magazine) here.