Studies show that unpopular teens may be at higher risk of heart condition later in life

Thirteen-year-old children who were not very popular as their peers grew up, a new study released on Tuesday found that there is an increased risk of developing circulatory system disease in later life. It involves a high risk for conditions such as narrow and hardened arteries and abnormal heartbeats that affect the normal functioning of the heart and blood vessels.

“Although many people don’t realize it, peer status is one of the strongest predictors of subsequent psychological and health outcomes, decades later, Mitch Prinstein said, by John van Setters of psychology and neuroscience at the University of North Carolina. Distinguished the professor.

“Numerous preliminary studies have shown that our similarity among peers in grade school performs more strongly than IQ, parental income, school grades, and pre-existing physical illness compared to life prediction,” Princestein , Who were not involved with the research, said.

Princestein and the study’s authors said that it is important to note that peer status is a specific form of popularity – probability rather than being a quiet child.

“Many would probably think of high-status children who were highly visible and influential – walking outside in the smoking area during breaks and partying during the weekend. This is another type of popularity, sometimes referred to as perceived popularity. Known in. “, Said Ylva Almquist, an associate professor and senior lecturer in the Department of Public Health Sciences at Stockholm University and an author of the study, which is published in the journal BMJ Open.

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“Peer status is an indicator of probability, and the extent to which a child is accepted and respected by his or her peers.”

Chronic health problems are usually explained by genetic factors or functions such as smoking, drinking, or an unhealthy diet, but research has suggested that high-quality relationships are an important indicator of mortality.

observational study

In this study from Sweden, researchers used data from the Stockholm Birth Cohort Multigenerational Study, which includes all people born in 1953 and living in Stockholm, Sweden’s capital in 1963.

The health of 5,410 men and 5,990 women was tracked in their 60s. At the age of 13, he was asked who he preferred to work with among his classmates. He used the results to determine “peer group status”, which he divided into four categories: zero enrollment, which he called “marginalized”; One (“low status”); Two or three (“middle position”); And four or more (“high status”).

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Researchers found that thirteen percent of boys attained higher peer group status than girls (28.5%) by age 13. Some 16% of girls were classified as “marginalized”, compared to 12% of boys.

Circulatory disease was found to be higher in women than men, but at the age of 13, children were classified as “marginalized”, with both sexes having a 33% to 34% higher risk of circulatory disease in adulthood, The study found.

In their analysis, the researchers stated that they have sibling numbers and status, parental education and mental health, socioeconomic status, and school factors such as intelligence, educational performance, and any criminal behavior.

But as an observational study, it can show only one link, and Almquist said there may be several explanations for the association.

“A common dilemma in such research is that we have the information necessary to establish an association between conditions in childhood and health outcomes in adulthood, but little is known about what is happening in between Are, ”Almquist said.

Potential for chronic inflammation due to stress

Catherine Erlich, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Georgia who was not involved in the research, said one explanation could be chronic inflammation associated with stressful experiences of relationships, both in adolescence and adulthood.

“It is plausible that stressful social experiences (such as being socially isolated) can lead to persistent unresolved inflammation, and if these levels persist over time, it can cause problems in the arteries, heart attacks, and other cardiovascular problems. May increase the risk for plaques, ”said Erlich, who was not involved in the research.

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“It seems that health-related behaviors also play a role decades later in the progression from low peer status to infectious diseases. Individuals who are socially isolated have an unhealthy diet, excessive drinking, and busy lifestyles. May be more likely to lead. Which can also increase one’s risk for heart problems. “

There is also an evolutionary argument, according to Princestein, that “seeks popularity: happiness and success in the world, which cares too much about the wrong type of relationship.”

“Our species is uniquely and remarkably linked to our social status because many years ago we depended on each other for protection,” he said.

“Now research shows that social rejection activates the same areas of the brain that are known to react to physical pain, and also express inactive DNA to prepare our bodies for imminent injury. Unfortunately, this reaction is no longer necessary, so is the expression of them. Prinstein said that genes make us more likely to be vulnerable to viral infections and suffer from inflammation-related diseases.

He said it was also possible that higher status people in peers were more likely to afford opportunities for learning and access to more resources – including promoting their health.

“We spend a lot of time, energy and money doing what we think can improve children’s chances for a happy and successful life for us, but we have neglected one factor that is perhaps most important: our The ability of children to get well. More can be considered as others, “he said.

For parents concerned about their children’s social lives, Almquist stressed that problematic experiences with peers do not automatically lead to health problems and that caring for and supporting parents was a “protective factor” .

Erlich agreed that strong relationships between parents and adolescents may act as a buffer against problematic peer relationships. “It makes sense to look at these findings and worry about the long-term consequences for adolescents who may be socially isolated.

“Additionally, many teenagers struggled with their peer relationships at one point or another – they are difficult to fit in or ‘find their people’,” she said. “The advice I would give to families is: keep trying. Join new clubs, try to meet people online, put yourself out there – you’ll never know who can become lifelong friends.”


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