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!
Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung
High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences