Scientists examine links between teen behaviors and future health
Adolescence is a critical period of development that can have lasting effects on physical and emotional health.
NICHD has supported many research studies to learn more about adolescence, including:
- The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) : This study began in 1994 with U.S. adolescents in grades 7–12 and has continued to follow the group into adulthood, seeking to determine how social environments and behaviors in adolescence are linked to health and achievement outcomes in young adulthood.
- The Pediatric HIV/AIDS Cohort Study (PHACS): This study began in 2005, tracking the health of children and adolescents who became HIV-infected around the time of birth.
- The NEXT Generation Health Study: The NEXT study is a 7-year study that focuses on health behaviors during adolescence, predictors of risky behaviors, and the role of gene-environment interactions in health status, among other factors.
The following are some recent findings from these and other NICHD-funded studies on adolescents:
- A study of the eating and physical activity habits of more than 9,000 adolescents suggested that many teens could benefit more from additional exercise than from reducing their consumption of high-calorie foods.
- Another analysis found that several healthy behaviors increased in adolescents from 2000 to 2009. Over time, adolescents reported getting more physical activity, eating more fruits and vegetables, watching less TV, and consuming fewer sweets and sweetened beverages.
- One-third of the 2,500 10th grade students surveyed in the NEXT study said they had used alcohol in the past month. But of those who had visited a doctor in the past year, only half said their doctor asked about drinking.
- An Add Health study provided more evidence that bedtime and sleep duration affect academic and emotional outcomes for teens. Teenagers who stayed up later than 11:15 p.m. on school nights performed worse in school and had more emotional distress than did teenagers who went to bed earlier.
- Another study found that teens who were victims of dating violence experienced significant negative emotional effects 5 years later.
- PHACS researchers found that, in a cohort of more than 300 youth born with HIV, about 20 percent of youth did not know their HIV status when they became sexually active.
- A study of high school students found that a health career promotion program was more effective than a character development program at curbing violent and aggressive behavior.
NICHD continues to support studies like these to better understand how early physiological and environmental factors affect health later in life.
More Information from NICHD
- A to Z Health Topics:
- Division of Extramural Research
- Division of Intramural Population Health Research: Health Behavior Branch
Originally Posted: February 20, 2015