Happier kids grow into healthier adults

May 8th, 2009 - 6:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, May 8 (IANS) Children who stay focussed and are even-tempered have a better shot at good health in adulthood, a fact even truer of girls, according to a new study.
“Certain characteristics already evident early in life are likely to spark positive or negative emotions, and also influence biological and behavioural responses to stress,” said study co-author Laura D. Kubzansky of the Harvard School of Public Health.

“Some traits may contribute to developing healthier behaviours and better social relationships, and ultimately more resilience in mid-life,” she said.

“Supporting this idea, we found that children who were able to stay focussed on a task and react less negatively to situations at age seven reported better general health and fewer illnesses 30 years later.”

Kubzansky and co-authors tracked 569 individuals from the National Collaborative Perinatal Project from age seven to their mid-30s to see if certain personality traits influenced later health.

Trained observers rated the seven-year-olds on 15 different behaviours, said a Harvard release.

The sample consisted of 60 percent men and 40 percent women; 80 percent of participants were white and 20 percent were black. Of the sample, 76 percent reported good or excellent health and 18 percent reported illnesses.

“This longitudinal study provides more evidence that behaviour and emotions generally linked to certain temperaments play a crucial role in long-term health,” Kubzansky said.

These findings were published in the May issue of Health Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association.

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