Have you ever heard about Roseto, Pennsylvania? It is an Italian- American town in eastern Pennsylvania. After the Second World War, many Italians moved there to work in the local slate quarry. Soon there were so many Italians that moved there that it basically became a “little Italy”. Due to the fact that most of the people who moved there only spoke Italian, they were basically forced to live in a cohesive community relationship. This means that they did everything together. They worked together, they played together, they married each other, and they helped each other.
The medical physician noticed that the people of this sleepy little community seemed to be living longer. Other doctors and researchers were called in and they documented a striking difference in mortality due to less heart attacks between Roseto and the other neighboring towns. This magical touch was lost after the town’s youth started being Americanized, spoke English, traveled more, and married people from outside of the town (Am J Public Health 1992; 82, 1089-1092).
The Roseto effect is actually the effect of your community on your life expectancy. Your community plays a huge role on your health. Your physical community such as your family, friends, and colleagues has a huge impact on your health. Your spiritual community also plays a role. According to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine in which 12,000 people were tracked over a span of 32 years. A person’s chance of becoming obese increased by 57% if he or she had a friend who became obese during the same time interval. (NEJM 2007 Jul 26; 357(4), 370-9).
Why does my community have such a huge impact on my life? By “life”, I mean all aspects of your life such as your level of happiness, how much you weigh, how much money you make, and of course how healthy you are. You see, when we are born, we are extremely vulnerable and cannot fend for ourselves. We get other people to take care of us at this young age by getting other people to love and accept us for many years. We need the love from other people in order to survive, and this in turn feeds a fear in all of us that if we aren’t loved, we might not make it. This is an irrational fear, forcing our hand to compromise ourselves, our thoughts, and aspirations… All because we need to fit in with the people around us. We want to please everyone so that they will help us survive. This means that you will become just like your peer group simply to fit in. Now that we are aware of this fact, we can use it to our advantage. If you hang around happy, successful, healthy people, you will be surprised as to how fast this will change you and your path.
How can we use this knowledge to our benefit?
- Look around you and be aware of your group’s energy. Look at your family, friends, and co-workers, and groups. Over time, you will think and act similarly. You don’t need to change anything at this point. You just need to take a step back to observe.
- Try to associate yourselves with people that have the mindset and habits that you want for yourself.
- Once you’ve become part of a community, you need to show up and participate fully. Get involved!
- You will then become a guiding light for your own community, and people will want to model themselves after you.
Thinking of this community site, I’m very fortunate to have discovered the Healthy Dine Out Community. It’s a perfect blend of community and health consciousness. I’m obsessed with good nutrition and as a practicing gastroenterologist continually heal people through nutrition. Healthy dine out gives me a perfect opportunity to eat out with my family and friends while being confident that my food is doing its role of feeding my body. Constantly looking for an enhancing community, I sure seem to have found it.