14 September 2020

The Back Page: Do mean girls cause circulatory disease?

The Back Page

We all know that exposure to bitchy high school students – and being forced to wear pink on Wednesdays – can have a serious negative mental health impact on teenagers.

But what about the physical health effects?

Well, it turns out that mean girls could be causing more than just misery and bad memories.

A recently published Swedish study has suggested that dropping to the bottom of the social ladder at the age of 13 is linked with physical ill health later in life.

The study, published in BMJ Open, tracked around 15,000 people who were born in 1953 over the following 60 years.

The study looked at whether social status at the age of 13 was linked with circulatory disease during adulthood.

Being socially isolated and having a low peer status at school increased the risk of circulatory disease by around 54% in men and around 61% in women.

The study was observational so it can’t tell us anything about causality.

The authors had plenty to say about why being invisible in high school might lead to poor health outcomes, however.

“Marginalisation and peer rejection—conditions that are reflected by a low peer status position—deprive children of experiences that are important for their subsequent emotional and cognitive development, and may thus increase the risk for poor well-being and reduced mental health,” the authors wrote.

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