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Childhood traits hint at health later in life, decades-long Hawaii study suggests

By Star-Advertiser staff


Children who are irresponsible, careless or lacking in perseverance may be more likely to suffer obesity and overall poor health as adults, according to results from a longitudinal study conducted in Hawaii that spanned some six decades.

Findings from the study, which was conducted by the Oregon Research Institute in cooperation with Kaiser Permanente Center for Health in Hawaii, were published in the August edition of Health Psychology.

The study draws from information first collected in the 1960s when more than 2,000 children from elementary schools in Hawaii were assessed on their personality characteristics. In 1998, ORI was awarded funding from the National Institute for Mental Health to locate and examine the health-related behaviors and mental and physical health status of those students.

More than 800 participants were ultimately examined at Kaiser Permanente locations on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island.

The results indicate a strong relationship between childhood conscientiousness and adult health status. While those who exhibit poor personal habits were more likely to experience health problems as they aged, those who were organized, dependable and self-disciplined as children were more likely to enjoy better health as adults.

“These findings suggest avenues for further research that may lead to interventions,” said ORI scientist Sarah Hampson. “People who are more conscientious tend to have better health habits and less stress, which protects them from disease. Self-control is a key part of being conscientious, so our findings confirm the importance of teaching children self-control to enable them to grow up to be healthy adults.”

Hampson was recently took part in a panel on personality and health at the national American Psychological Association meeting in Honolulu.

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Bothrops wrote:
"irresponsible, careless or lacking in perseverance" Gee that sounds like a definition of being a child.
on August 10,2013 | 09:37PM
RichardCory wrote:
That's probably because that's the kind of child you were. Some of us actually tried hard even as children.
on August 10,2013 | 10:05PM
RetiredWorking wrote:
IRT Richard, yeah, I tried hard too.. I guess that's why I'm better than Bothrops and billions of people throughout history.too.
on August 11,2013 | 05:59PM
HD36 wrote:
Pay me for a study on kids who took ritalin when they were diagnosed as hyperactive in the 60's and 70's. I'll show you drug companies that made billions while the real culprit was too much sugar.
on August 10,2013 | 10:35PM
Anonymous wrote:
This is so ridiculous that they actually get paid to do these studies. OBVIOUSLY we should encourage children to have care, persevere and be responsible!
on August 11,2013 | 03:56AM
Kauai_Boy wrote:
Uh, duh. I hope that no taxpayer dollars were spent in these pointless studies.
on August 11,2013 | 06:59AM
ruthandnancy wrote:
We need a study for this? It's purely common sense.
on August 11,2013 | 09:55AM
cojef wrote:
Irresponsible, careless or lacking perseverence all equate to the lack of descipline and responsiblitiy, which are learned from parents. Of course, the issue of unwed mothers, as well as, social mores may influence the findings of the study. Non of which are mentioned. The study is not conclusive.
on August 11,2013 | 10:42AM
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