What are the social, psychological and physical health challenges facing adolescents in the UK?
sunset in florence

How to Cite

Chakravorty, T. (2020). What are the social, psychological and physical health challenges facing adolescents in the UK? . The Physician, 6(2), 1-6. https://doi.org/10.38192/


The ages of ten to nineteen are monopolised by biological, psychological and sociocultural changes, all of which impact health in the present and future. Behaviours and habits acquired during adolescence can have long-term impacts. Smoking, alcohol use, obesity and physical inactivity are all examples of health-related behaviours that usually start in adolescence and contribute to the global epidemic of non-communicable diseases in adults. These behaviours are influenced by socioeconomic and cultural factors and are major determinants of future health inequalities.




World Health Organisation Sixty-fourth World Health Assembly. Resolution WHA 64.28: Youth and health risks., <http://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/WHA64/A64_R28-en.pdf> (2011).

Spear, L. P. The behavioral neuroscience of adolescence., (Norton, 2010).

Susman, E. J. Modeling developmental complexity in adolescence: Hormones and behavior in context. Journal of Research on Adolescence 7, 283-306, doi:10.1207/s15327795jra0703_3 (1997).

Wang, Y. Is obesity associated with early sexual maturation? A comparison of the association in American boys versus girls. Pediatrics 110, 903-910, doi:10.1542/peds.110.5.903 (2002).

World Health Organisation - Health For The World’s Adolescents - A second chance in the second decade, <http://apps.who.int/adolescent/second-decade/> (2014).

Perry, C. L. in Promoting Health: Intervention Strategies from Social and Behavioral Research. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Capitalizing on Social Science and Behavioral Research to Improve the Public's Health (eds B.D. Smedley & S.L. Syme) (National Academies Press (US), 2000).

Blum, R. W., Bastos, F. I., Kabiru, C. W. & Le, L. C. Adolescent health in the 21st century. Lancet 379, 1567-1568, doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60407-3 (2012).

National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. Growing Up Global: The Changing Transitions to Adulthood in Developing Countries. . (The National Academies Press, 2005).

Viner, R. M. et al. Adolescence and the social determinants of health. Lancet 379, 1641-1652, doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60149-4 (2012).

Beaglehole, R. et al. Priority actions for the non-communicable disease crisis. Lancet 377, 1438-1447, doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(11)60393-0 (2011).

Sawyer, S. M. et al. Adolescence: a foundation for future health. Lancet 379, 1630-1640, doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60072-5 (2012).

Mackenbach, J. P. et al. Socioeconomic inequalities in health in 22 European countries. N Engl J Med 358, 2468-2481, doi:10.1056/NEJMsa0707519 (2008).

Gore, F. M. et al. Global burden of disease in young people aged 10-24 years: a systematic analysis. Lancet 377, 2093-2102, doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(11)60512-6 (2011).

WHO. Maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health. , <https://www.who.int/maternal_child_adolescent/topics/adolescence/mental_health/en/> (2017).

Kessler, R. C. et al. Age of onset of mental disorders: a review of recent literature. Curr Opin Psychiatry 20, 359-364, doi:10.1097/YCO.0b013e32816ebc8c (2007).

Kim-Cohen, J. et al. Prior juvenile diagnoses in adults with mental disorder: developmental follow-back of a prospective-longitudinal cohort. Arch Gen Psychiatry 60, 709-717, doi:10.1001/archpsyc.60.7.709 (2003).

Morgan, C. et al. Incidence, clinical management, and mortality risk following self harm among children and adolescents: cohort study in primary care. BMJ 359, j4351, doi:10.1136/bmj.j4351 (2017).

Keles, B., McCrae, N. & Grealish, A. A systematic review: the influence of social media on depression, anxiety and psychological distress in adolescents. International Journal of Adolescence and Youth 25, 79-93, doi:10.1080/02673843.2019.1590851 (2020).

Feinstein, L. et al. What are the effects of education on health? , <http://www1.oecd.org/education/innovation-education/37425753.pdf> (2006).

Shah, R. et al. The social determinants of young people’s health. Identifying the key issues and assessing how young people are doing in the 2010s, <https://www.health.org.uk/publications/the-social-determinants-of-young-people%E2%80%99s-health> (2018).

Flay, B. R. et al. Effects of 2 prevention programs on high-risk behaviors among African American youth: a randomized trial. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 158, 377-384, doi:10.1001/archpedi.158.4.377 (2004).

Robert, P.-O. et al. Academic performance and adolescent smoking in 6 European cities: the role of friendship ties. International Journal of Adolescence and Youth 24, 125-135, doi:10.1080/02673843.2018.1475288 (2019).

Young and homeless research - Young & Homeless report 2018, <https://www.homeless.org.uk/facts/our-research/young-and-homeless-research> (2018).

Bartley, M. Health Inequality: An Introduction to Concepts, Theories and Methods, 2nd Edition. (2016).

UCL. Being on a zero-hours contract is bad for your health. UCL News

, <https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/2017/jul/being-zero-hours-contract-bad-your-health> (2017).

Sokol, R., Ennett, S., Gottfredson, N. & Halpern, C. Variability in self-rated health trajectories from adolescence to young adulthood by demographic factors. Prev Med 105, 73-76, doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2017.08.015 (2017).

Acquah, E. O., Topalli, P.-Z., Wilson, M. L., Junttila, N. & Niemi, P. M. Adolescent loneliness and social anxiety as predictors of bullying victimisation. International Journal of Adolescence and Youth 21, 320-331, doi:10.1080/02673843.2015.1083449 (2016).

Wolke, D. & Lereya, S. T. Long-term effects of bullying. Arch Dis Child 100, 879-885, doi:10.1136/archdischild-2014-306667 (2015).

Education Policy Institiute - Bullying: A review of the evidence, <https://epi.org.uk/publications-and-research/bullying-a-review-of-the-evidence/> (2018).

Lau, P. W., Lau, E. Y., Wong del, P. & Ransdell, L. A systematic review of information and communication technology-based interventions for promoting physical activity behavior change in children and adolescents. J Med Internet Res 13, e48, doi:10.2196/jmir.1533 (2011).

Scheepers, E. et al. Evaluating health communication – a holistic overview of the impact of Soul City IV. Health Promotion Journal of Australia 15, 121-133, doi:10.1071/he04121 (2004).

Anderson, E. L., Steen, E. & Stavropoulos, V. Internet use and Problematic Internet Use: a systematic review of longitudinal research trends in adolescence and emergent adulthood. International Journal of Adolescence and Youth 22, 430-454, doi:10.1080/02673843.2016.1227716 (2017).

Coffey, C., Carlin, J. B., Lynskey, M., Li, N. & Patton, G. C. Adolescent precursors of cannabis dependence: findings from the Victorian Adolescent Health Cohort Study. Br J Psychiatry 182, 330-336, doi:10.1192/bjp.182.4.330 (2003).

Kubiszewski, V., Fontaine, R., Rusch, E. & Hazouard, E. Association between electronic media use and sleep habits: an eight-day follow-up study. International Journal of Adolescence and Youth 19, 395-407, doi:10.1080/02673843.2012.751039 (2014).

Children, Adolescents, and Television. Pediatrics 107, 423-426, doi:10.1542/peds.107.2.423 (2001).

Review of evidence on health aspects of air pollution – REVIHAAP Project: Technical Report [Internet]. (WHO Regional Office for Europe, Copenhagen, 2013).

Kelly, F. J. & Fussell, J. C. Air pollution and public health: emerging hazards and improved understanding of risk. Environmental Geochemistry and Health 37, 631-649, doi:10.1007/s10653-015-9720-1 (2015).

Roberts, S. et al. Exploration of NO2 and PM2.5 air pollution and mental health problems using high-resolution data in London-based children from a UK longitudinal cohort study. Psychiatry Res 272, 8-17, doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2018.12.050 (2019).

Danese, A. & Baldwin, J. R. Hidden Wounds? Inflammatory Links Between Childhood Trauma and Psychopathology. Annu Rev Psychol 68, 517-544, doi:10.1146/annurev-psych-010416-044208 (2017).

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Copyright (c) 2020 Array