The power of community is well known, but never fully recognised until Dr Stewart Wolf ands team investigated a small US town called Roseto, which in the 1960’s was an anomaly in America. Whilst the rest of North America were suffering from modern world illness and disease, no one in Rosetto under the age of 55 had died of a heart attack or showed any signs of heart disease. The local death rate for men of 65 was half that of the two neighbouring towns.
This unexplained phenonomen drew a team of researchers led by Dr Stewart Wolf to investigate whether these amazing statistics were due to their diet, family history, exercise regimes or geographical location. Surprisingly, they found nothing different from the rest of America. In fact, the town was made up of Italian immigrants who worked in factories, smoked unfiltered cigars, and had dinner tables filled with rich Italian food and wine.
What Dr Wolf and his team did discover was that the inhabitants of Roseto continued to hold on to their traditional ways. The majority of households had three generations living under one roof. Eighty percent of men were members of at least one community group and there were 22 separate civic organisations in a town of less than 2000 people! Townsfolk would gather in each other’s kitchens, play cards and simply talk. When problems arose, there was no secrecy and friends and family rallied. The corner stone of Roseto life was family.
Over the next decade the Rosetan lifestyle became more westernised. The generational homes broke up, and by 1971, when lavish houses, expensive cars and swimming pools appeared, the first person under the age of 55 died of a heart attack. By the 1980s, the rate of fatal heart attacks in Roseto was the same as the rest of the country.
When Roseto’s traditional close-knit, mutually supportive social structure began to crumble, the town’s immunity to death from heart attacks gradually came to an end. Social Support Promotes Good Health!