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Home > Adolescents at risk. Psychosomatic health complaints, low life satisfaction, excessive sugar consumption and their relationship with cumulative risks.

Walsh, Sophie D and Bruckauf, Zlata and Gaspar, Tania (2016) Adolescents at risk. Psychosomatic health complaints, low life satisfaction, excessive sugar consumption and their relationship with cumulative risks. Florence: UNICEF Office of Research.

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Adolescence is a time of transitions when experimentation, risk taking and active peer interactions can be viewed as a part of the development process. Yet, for some groups of young people with reported poor psychosomatic health, low life satisfaction or unhealthy eating habits these experiences may be different. Empirical evidence is limited in recognising the overlapping and cumulative risks of adolescents’ health disadvantage and multiple externalized risk behaviours and outcomes (smoking, drinking, binge drinking, regular fighting, injuries and bullying).

Drawing on the most recent 2013/2014 data of the Health Behaviour of School Children (HBSC) study, this paper examines the risks of individual and cumulative risks (three or more types) associated with being in the bottom group of psychosomatic health complaints, life satisfaction and unhealthy eating (excessive sugar consumption) across 29 countres. Using multivariate logistic modelling, the association that was the strongest, most consistent and independent of family affluence (FAS) was that between cumulative risks and high levels of psychosomatic health complaints. Similarly consistent, although weaker, is the association found between adolescents’ low life satisfaction and unhealthy eating. Only in Greece and Hungary does the association between cumulative risks and life satisfaction seem to be mediated by family socio-economic status (SES). This is also the case for Denmark and Malta in the case of unhealthy eating.


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