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A healthy teenager is a happy teenager
Date:3/2/2012

Teenagers who turn their backs on a healthy lifestyle and turn to drink, cigarettes and junk food are significantly unhappier than their healthier peers. New research also shows that 12-13 is a catalyst age when young people turn away from the healthy habits of their younger years and start to get involved in risky behaviours.

The research, which used information from Understanding Society, a long-term study of 40,000 UK households funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), looked at the responses of 5,000 young people between the ages of 10-15 to questions about their health-related behaviours and levels of happiness. The results show that:

  • Young people who never drank any alcohol were between four and six times more likely to have higher levels of happiness than those who reported any alcohol consumption.

  • Youth who smoked were about five times less likely to have high happiness scores compared to those who never smoked.

  • Higher consumption of fruit and vegetables and lower consumption of crisps, sweets and fizzy drinks were both associated with high happiness.

  • The more hours of sport youth participated in per week the happier they were.

Researchers at the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex believe the data showed that unhealthy behaviours such as smoking, drinking alcohol and taking no exercise are closely linked to substantially lower happiness scores among teenagers, even when socio-demographic factors such as gender, age, family income and parent's education are taken into account.

Twelve per cent of 13-15 year olds reported that they smoked compared with two per cent of 10-12 year olds. The figures for alcohol consumption were even more striking with eight per cent of 10-12 year olds reporting having had an alcoholic drink in the last month rising to 41 per cent amongst 13-15 year olds.

The research also showe
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Contact: Press Office
Pressoffice@esrc.ac.uk
Economic & Social Research Council
Source:Eurekalert

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