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Unpopular teens could be at higher risk of heart conditions later in life, study suggests

September 15, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Many of us hope to escape who we were in high school, particularly if you were last in line to be picked in gym class, but a growing body of research suggests that how popular you are in adolescence has a link with psychological and physical health decades later.

"Although not many realize it, peer status is one of the strongest predictors of later psychological and health outcomes, even decades later, said Mitch Prinstein, the John Van Seters distinguished professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of North Carolina.

"Several early studies revealed that our likeability among peers in grade school predicts life outcomes more strongly than does IQ, parental income, school grades, and pre-existing physical illness," Prinstein, who wasn't involved with the research, said.

Prinstein, and the authors of the study, said that it's important to note that peer status is a specific form of popularity -- likeability rather than being the cool kid.

Katherine Ehrlich, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Georgia, who wasn't involved in the research, said one explanation could be chronic inflammation linked to stressful experiences of relationships, both in adolescence and in adulthood.

"It is plausible that stressful social experiences (like being socially isolated) could lead to persistent unresolved inflammation, and if these levels are sustained over time, that could increase one's risk for plaques in the arteries, heart attacks, and other cardiovascular problems," said Ehrlich, who wasn't involved in the research.

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