Feeling Loved as a Teen Leads to Healthier Adults

Those who reported feeling loved, self-confident, happy, and optimistic as teenagers had better heart health when they reached adulthood, according to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.

What to Know

  • Five mental health assets are related to better cardiometabolic health outcomes: optimism, happiness, self-esteem, a sense of belonging, and feeling loved.

  • Teens with four or five positive mental health assets were 69% more likely to reach their 20s and 30s in good cardiometabolic health compared to teens with fewer of these positive mental health assets.

  • White youth were more likely to maintain good health later in life compared to Black or Latino youth, and the impact of discrimination and other social risks youth of color face may explain the elevated rates of cardiometabolic disease among these people.

  • Black teens reported having more positive mental health assets than youth of any other racial or ethnic group, but racial disparities in cardiometabolic health were still apparent in adulthood. Black individuals were the least likely to maintain good cardiometabolic health over time.

  • Fostering positive psychological assets in teenagers may help prevent cardiometabolic disease in adulthood and may also play a role in addressing health inequities later in life.

This is a summary of the article, “Adolescent Psychological Assets and Cardiometabolic Health Maintenance in Adulthood: Implications for Health Equity,” published in the Journal of the American Heart Association on January 11, 2023. The full article can be found on aha journal.org.

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