Why social connections are so important for health and longevity

May 24, 2023 0 Comments

The researchers assumed and later confirmed1that what distinguished Roseto was that it “demonstrated a high level of ethnic and social homogeneity, close family ties and cohesive community relations”.

This community of 1,600 people was founded by Italian immigrants in the late nineteenth century. Until about the late 1960s, people in Roseto still lived as if they were in Italy, especially in terms of their social relationships, religion, and multigenerational homes. In a 2015 PBS documentary series on Italian Americans, filmmakers traveled to Roseto and spoke with elders who participated in the original study.

In fact, they were there to document what community members call the Big Time, an annual event that brings people connected to Roseto together, almost like a giant family reunion. It hosts parades, parties and dinners with lots of, you guessed it, pasta. Beyond the sheer pleasure of food and wine, the documentary so clearly shows the real secret to a good life — care and connection.

Today, Roseto resembles the rest of America—it’s no longer an island of culture, and so are the rates of cardiovascular disease. Since the early sixties, when the social cohesion of Roseto began to crumble, the death rate from heart disease also increased among the younger generation of Rosetans. The landmark Roseto study, which spanned 50 years, tracked mortality rates and changing social traditions, confirming all previous findings from other studies: older generations of Roseto residents who benefited from this tight-knit community at midcentury were much more protected from heart disease. than their children.

This phenomenon of improved heart health in close-knit communities is now called the Roseto effect, and the main findings of research on the importance of social connections have been confirmed time and time again over the years.

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