Teenagers are known for their angst-ridden ways, but those who remain happy and positive during the tumultuous teenage years report better general health when they are adults, according to a new Northwestern University study.
Researchers also found that teens with high positive well-being had a reduced risk of engaging in unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, binge drinking, using drugs and eating unhealthy foods as they transitioned into young adulthood.
The study, one of the first to focus on the effect positive psychological characteristics in adolescence can have on long-term health, is published in the July 2011 issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.
"Our study shows that promoting and nurturing positive well-being during the teenage years may be a promising way to improve long-term health," said Lindsay Till Hoyt, first author of the study and a fifth-year doctoral student in human development and social policy at Northwestern.
Hoyt is also an affiliate of Cells to Society (C2S): The Center on Social Disparities and Health within the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern (IPR).
The results come from the analysis of data collected from 10,147 young people as part of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). Add Health began collecting data on this set of teenagers in 1994, asking them a series of questions, including questions about their physical and emotional health and well-being. The group was followed up on in 1996 and 2001.
In order to measure positive well-being in adolescence, Hoyt and her team went back to the 1994 data from that specific sample of young people and examined their answers to a series of "well-being" questions. These questions focused on topics that gauged the teens' sense of happiness, enjoyment of life, hopefulness for the future, self-esteem and social acceptance. They used these measures of positive well-being during adolescence (measured in 1994) to predict perceived general health and risky health behaviors in young adulthood (measured in 2001). The researchers controlled the study for health conditions in adolescence, socioeconomic status, symptoms of depression and other known predictors of long-term health.
"Our results show that positive well-being during adolescence is significantly associated with reporting excellent health in young adulthood," said Emma K. Adam, co-author and associate professor of education and social policy and IPR faculty fellow at C2S.
"Positive well-being is more than just the absence of depression; the influence of a teenager's positive well-being on long-term good health is present even after accounting for the negative health effects of experiencing depressive symptoms in adolescence," Adam said.
The second outcome of the study showed that the adolescents who reported higher positive well-being as a teen in 1994 were less likely to engage in risky health behaviors as a young adult, in 2001.
"A lot of health-intervention programs for adolescents are problem-focused, but if well-being matters for long-term health, reinforcing and trying to develop positive psychological characteristics is something we need to think about," Hoyt said. "People have used a positive youth development approach to curb problems like delinquency and improve school achievement, but this approach may also be a way to help improve the health of young people."
The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development supported this research.
Other authors of the study include P. Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, professor of human development and social policy in the School of Education and Social Policy and director of C2S at IPR, and Thomas W. McDade, associate professor of anthropology and associate director of C2S at IPR.
Erin White | EurekAlert!
Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT
Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
06.12.2016 | Materials Sciences
06.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
06.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering