Well-being in adolescence – an association with health-related behaviors: findings from Understanding Society, the UK Household Longitudinal Study

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

May 15, 2014


The objective of this study was to investigate the demographic distribution of selected health-related behaviors and their relationship with different indicators of well-being. The data come from Wave 1 of the youth panel of Understanding Society household panel study. The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) measured socio-emotional difficulties. Markers of happiness in different life domains were combined to assess levels of happiness. Generally, younger youth participated in more health-protective behaviors, while older youth reported more health-risk behaviors. Higher consumption of fruit and vegetables and greater participation in sport were associated with higher odds of high happiness. Healthier eating was associated with lower odds of socio-emotional difficulties, while increased fast food consumption was associated with higher odds of socio-emotional difficulties. Smoking, drinking, and decreased sport participation were all associated with socio-emotional difficulties. Health-protective behaviors were associated with happiness, while health-risk behaviors were associated with socio-emotional difficulties.

Published in

Journal of Early Adolescence

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 34 , p.518 -538







Open Access article

Is referenced by: Booker, C.L. and Knies, G. (2017) ‘Health Committee. Children and young people's mental health - role of education inquiry. Written evidence from the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex (CMH0111)’. Colchester: University of Essex. Institute for Social and Economic Research.

Related Publications



Latest findings, new research

Publications search

Search all research by subject and author


Researchers discuss their findings and what they mean for society


Background and context, methods and data, aims and outputs


Conferences, seminars and workshops

Survey methodology

Specialist research, practice and study

Taking the long view

ISER's annual report


Key research themes and areas of interest