Social integration, support and strain have strong associations with our physical health and longevity, as nicely shown in this fascinating study which merged data from 4 longitudinal U.S. population studies. The chart below details the effects on CRP (a measure of chronic inflammation), blood pressure, waist circumference and BMI.
They found that social integration was especially important in adolescence and late adulthood. When we talk about environmental factors that influence our health, we don’t always include the impact of social support and integration, but these effects are real and can be large.
Full text is here. They deleterious effects of social strain remind me of a classic Scientific American article by Sapolsky detailed the stress effects of poverty and low social status on many of the body’s systems.