Popularity at school is good for your ego and your health
WHILE many parents get concerned about their adolescent children’s desire to be part of the ‘in-crowd’, a Swedish study suggests popularity at that age may confer future health benefits.
The study of 14,000 children born in 1953 found those who were less popular and powerful at school were four times more likely to require hospital treatment for hormonal, nutritional and metabolic diseases by age 50 than were their more popular classmates.
The less popular students were also twice as likely to develop mental health and behavioural problems, and rates of self-harm and attempted suicide were also increased.
The prospect of having ischaemic heart disease was nine times higher, and rates of drug and alcohol addiction were also increased for the less popular students.
Even the likelihood of hospital admission for unintentional poisoning was higher than that of the most popular students.
The cohort had their degree of popularity, power and status measured in 1966 when they were 13 years old.
Their health was assessed at intervals over the intervening years to 2003.
All associations remained after controlling for comorbid diseases.
“We should…focus on how the psychosocial mechanisms between social status in school and health operate, and how they may be influenced in order to reduce the negative impact of peer status on health across the life course,” the authors said.
J Epidemiol Community Health, online