Adolescent Multiple Risk Behavior and Socioeconomic Status

Adolescent Multiple Risk Behavior and Socioeconomic Status

A study published in BMC Public Health (2021) examined whether adolescent multiple risk behavior (MRB) is associated with socioeconomic status (SES) in young adulthood and whether it is moderated by early life SES variables.

MRBs included: physical inactivity; car risk; criminal/anti-social behavior; hazardous alcohol consumption; regular tobacco smoking; cannabis use; illicit drug/solvent use; unprotected sex (1970 cohort) and the additional MRBs: TV viewing; penetrative sex before age 16; scooter risk; cycle helmet risk and self-harm (1991/1992 cohort).

Adolescent MRB was negatively associated with young adult SES (university degree attainment) in both the 1970 cohort and the 1991/1992 cohort. 

There was a dose response relationship, with each additional risk behavior resulting in reduced odds of university degree attainment.

The authors concluded that adolescence appears to be a critical time in the life course to address risk behaviors, due to the likelihood that behaviors established here may have effects in adulthood.

Intervening on adolescent MRB could improve later SES outcomes and thus affect health outcomes later in life. 

These data indicate the need to address multiple health behaviors of adolescents in cost-effective prevention programs that simultaneously target multiple risk habits (e.g., substance use and chronic disease risk behaviors) to improve socioeconomic status and wellbeing later in life as adults.    

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