Multisite Musculoskeletal Pain in Adolescence May Predict Medical and Social Issues

Norwegian researchers report that teenagers with pain in multiple body sites have an elevated risk for life-affecting health problems during young adulthood. In this study, researchers followed 3,987 teens for an average of eight years and found a positive relationship between the number of pain sites the participants reported at age 15 or 16 and how much they utilized medical or social benefits during their early 20s. The authors conclude, “Adolescents with multisite musculoskeletal pain are at substantially increased risk of health and social difficulties into young adulthood. Identification and interventions for these adolescent problems could alleviate this risk and be a sound socioeconomic investment.”
—European Journal of Pain, July 2017

Teen Drivers Face Triple the Risk of a Fatal Crash

An analysis of national data found that compared with drivers aged 30-59 years old in the United States, teen drivers are 4.5 times more likely to be involved in a crash and over three times as likely to be in a fatal collision. The investigators say that the three main factors associated with fatal teen crashes are distraction, not buckling up, and speeding. AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, June 2017

Teens May Benefit from Sugary Drink Warnings

Currently, the average teen in the United States consumes a least one sugar-sweetened beverage daily, which accounts for more than twice the recommended daily serving of sugar. In a recent study, researchers observed the beverage selections of 2,000 youngsters when drinks had either no label, a label that featured calorie content, or a label that carried variations of a written warning that sugary beverages contribute to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and tooth decay. The team found that 77% of kids selected a sugary drink if there was no warning label, but participants were 8% to 16% less likely to select a sugary drink that bore a warning label. The authors say the findings highlight the need for nutrition information at the point of purchase to help individuals make healthier choices. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, September 2016

Family Stress Linked to Obesity in Teens

An analysis of data from over 4,700 teens found that family stress during childhood can put teenagers at an increased risk for being overweight or obese. According to researchers, girls in the study who experienced family stress such as family disruption and financial problems during their early years were more likely to be obese and overweight during their teen years than their peers who were not subjected to such stressors. The researchers also found that boys whose mothers suffered from poor health were more likely to become obese or overweight by late adolescence. Study author Dr. Daphne Hernandez concludes, “This study extends our knowledge of stress and obesity by focusing on the family environment over time. By knowing the types of stressors that influence female and male adolescent weight gain, we can tailor specific social services to be included in obesity prevention programs.”

Preventive Medicine, April 2015

Mental Attitude: Think You Are Fat?

Researchers found that normal weight teens who perceive themselves as fat are more likely to grow up to be fat. 59% of girls who felt fat as a teen became overweight in adulthood while 31% of girls who did not consider themselves fat during adolescence were found to be overweight. Normal weight girls were more likely than boys to rate themselves as overweight (22% of girls vs. 9% of the boys). One reason for weight gain in later years may be due to psychosocial stress, which can be associated with gaining weight. Under this scenario, the psychosocial stress related to having (or not having) an ideal body type, along with the perception of oneself as overweight, can result in weight gain. Another explanation may be that young people who see themselves as fat often change their eating habits by skipping meals, which can lead to obesity. Also, a diet you can’t maintain over time will be counterproductive, as the body tries to maintain the weight you had before you started to diet.
Norwegian University of Science and Technology, July 2012