December 1, 2015

Add Health Research in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences


Using data from Add Health and three other studies, the research team of Y. Claire Yang, Courtney Boen, Karen Gerken, Ting Li, Kristen Schorpp, and Kathleen Mullan Harris examined the impact of social relationships over the lifecourse. The results showed that social support was related to better health from adolescence to old age, including levels of inflammation, hypertension, and obesity. Relationships were so important in adolescence that social isolation had an impact similar to a lack of exercise.

Read the story from Huffington Post: Friends Are As Important To Your Health As Diet And Exercise


“We’re able to show for the first time how this link [between social relationships and health] happens, evolves and changes as individuals age,” said sociology professor Yang Claire Yang of UNC Chapel Hill and the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“Based on these findings, it should be as important to encourage adolescents and young adults to build broad social relationships and social skills for interacting with others as it is to eat healthy and be physically active,” said senior study author Kathleen Mullan Harris, who is also a sociology professor at UNC Chapel Hill.

Read coverage on this study from other media outlets at:


Scholarly Source: Yang YC, Boen C, Gerken K, Li T, Schorpp K, Harris KM. Social relationships and physiological determinants of longevity across the human life span. PNAS 2016. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1511085112. Article available online.