Popular Kids Become Healthier Adults

Classroom outcasts much likelier to suffer chronic health problems as adults
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 29, 2009 2:15 AM CDT
Swedish researchers used survey answers to divide children into five groups, with "marginalised" and "peripheral" at the bottom.   (Shutter Stock)

(Newser) – Children with few friends at school are much more likely to suffer poor health as adults, according to a new study. Swedish researchers asked 6th graders in 1966 which children they preferred to work with at school, then matched that data with hospital admissions between 1973 and 2003. They found that the "low-status" children least accepted by their peers were nine times likelier to suffer heart disease, and likelier to suffer diabetes and mental health problems.

Researchers theorize the unpopular children developed a poor self-image, which led to serious health problems later in life. "Children who feel undervalued or are bullied at school often grow up lacking self-confidence," one expert tells the BBC. "They then seek comfort in over-eating, smoking or drinking to excess, and all too often find themselves on the slippery slope to chronic ill-health. It is crucial to do whatever we can to help children and young people feel valued."