February 27, 2017 – Health Lifestyles in Adolescence and Self-rated Health into Adulthood
Do health behaviors cluster together as health lifestyles in adolescence? Are these lifestyles socially patterned? Do these lifestyles impact physical health into adulthood? To answer these questions, we employed data from Waves 1 and 4 of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (n = 7,827). Our latent class analysis revealed four health lifestyles: (a) Low-Risk, (b) Moderate-Risk with Substance Use, (c) Moderate-Risk with Inactivity, and (d) High-Risk. As suggested by health lifestyle theory, membership in these classes varied according to gender, race, ethnicity, and family structure. Consistent with the life course perspective, regression analyses indicated that those in the High-Risk lifestyle tend to exhibit worse health in adolescence and adulthood than those in the Low-Risk lifestyle. Our findings confirm that socially patterned lifestyles can be observed in adolescence, and these lifestyles are potentially important for understanding the distribution of physical health across the early life course.