Longitudinal evidence on adolescent social network position and cardiometabolic risk in adulthood


Kim, J. & Park, K. (2022). Longitudinal evidence on adolescent social network position and cardiometabolic risk in adulthood. Soc Sci Med. vol. 301


RATIONALE: Despite the importance of the role of social networks in health, few studies have examined the relationship between adolescent social network position and adult health. OBJECTIVE: This study examines whether several dimensions of one's social network position in adolescence is associated with cardiometabolic risk in adulthood among U.S. adolescents. This study also explores the mechanisms that undergird the relationship between adolescents' network position and their later-life health. METHODS: Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (N = 9517), this study uses ordinary least squares regression models with school fixed effects. Three measures of adolescent social network position, including popularity, Bonacich centrality, and social isolation, were sociometrically assessed in schools. Cardiometabolic risk in adulthood was based on 12 biomarkers covering four domains of physiological systems. RESULTS: All three measures of adolescent network position were associated with adult cardiometabolic risk even after controlling for sociodemographic and family-level covariates, as well as school fixed effects. Controlling for adolescent characteristics attenuated the associations for popularity, Bonacich centrality, and isolation by 31%, 58%, and 26%, respectively, which rendered the associations for Bonacich centrality statistically nonsignificant. Adult health behaviors were the most consistent mediator for popularity and isolation, whereas adult socioeconomic attainment explained part of the association for popularity. In contrast, adult social integration did not play a mediating role. Simultaneously controlling for all proposed mechanism variables explained 17% and 18% of the associations for popularity and isolation, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Findings of this study suggest that social network position during adolescence has enduring consequences for cardiometabolic risk in adulthood. A combination of behavioral and human capital pathways explains part of the associations, though they appear to operate differently for distinct network position measures.







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Journal Article

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Soc Sci Med


Kim, J.
Park, K.

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