Network Weaving

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Reframing Obesity Through Network Weaving

In his July 25th post, Valdis mentioned the social network mapping of obesity networks in The New England Journal of Medicine paper by Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler.

One of the most intriguing observations in the paper is that it was not seeing obeisty-related behavior shifts in their friendship networks that correlated with the spread of obesity, but shifts in norms! An infuential person in the friendship network started reframing the groups' attitude about obesity and related topics (eating habits, etc) and this created a dynamic of such power that it's impact shot out 3 steps (to friends of friends of friends).

This has incredible implications for obesity reduction efforts. Working with a network of local organizations, researchers, and foundations, can we identify some key individuals in a set of friendship networks that are ready to change, and help them form a group that would consciously help their networks reframe obesity? These key individuals would be network weavers, helping to build healthier networks.

I think the work of the Frameworks Institute could be very helpful. This group identifies current frameworks and then helps groups create new frameworks that enable individuals to move from those existing frameworks to new, more healthy ones.


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