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The Boston Globe

Business

Company e-mail patterns can predict who’s fat or thin --- and help obese workers lose weight

Corporate e-mail traffic can now be analyzed to determine how companies can help influence obese employees to adopt more healthful habits, according to a new study from Activate Networks of Newton and Healthways, a Tennessee company that helps businesses to devise and implement wellness programs.

One of Activate’s cofounders is Nicholas Christakis, a professor of medical sociology at Harvard Medical School who has done research on social influence in the workplace. Founded in 2010, Activate “maps” a corporate client’s customers and analyzes “influence patterns.” Such information has the potential to identify ways in which a client can optimize sales, for example.

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