Northwestern University Logo Teenagers are known for their tantrums, but happy go lucky ones seem to have an advantage. According to a study conducted by Northwestern University scientists, teens who often see the brighter side of life by staying optimistic reportedly encounter improved general health as they reach adulthood.

The study is a part of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health where scientists examined information gathered from 10,147 young persons. They were interviewed regarding their physical and emotional status in 1994. The set was followed up in 1996 and 2001. The analysts found that teens with a positive frame of mind seemingly had less vulnerability to unhealthy habits like smoking, gluttonous drinking, substance abuse and consumption of junk foods as they moved to the adult phase of life.

“Our study shows that promoting and nurturing positive well-being during the teenage years may be a promising way to improve long-term health,” commented Lindsay Till Hoyt, first author of the study and a fifth-year doctoral student in human development and social policy at Northwestern.

The questions covered in the survey were associated with well being like sense of happiness, ways of enjoying life, attitude towards future, self-worth and social acceptability. These observations were referred to gauge risky actions by 2001 when these participants reached young adulthood. The study was controlled for health conditions during young teenage years, family background, depressive symptoms, and other indicators of long-term health.

The findings suggest that a positive outlook in life during adolescence seems to be prominently linked to quality health in young adulthood. As per a co-author Adam, positive well-being is not inclusive of just the absence of depression. The effect of a teenager’s optimistic well-being on long-term good health is seemingly present even after attributing for the negative health influences of adolescent depressive symptoms.

The second result of the analysis was that optimistic adolescents as found in 1994 were apparently less likely to succumb to harmful health behaviors as revealed in 2001. According to Hoyt, positive youth development avenues have been of help to delinquent teens and aid in enhancing school grades. They may also be useful to improve the health of young individuals.

The study is published in the July 2011 issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.