Unpopular in School, Unhealthy Later?
Students Shunned in Sixth Grade May Be More Likely to Be Hospitalized Later, Researcher Reports
Sept. 28, 2009 -- The kids no-one wants to work with in sixth grade may be
at a health disadvantage as adults, a Swedish study shows.
The study, published in the advance online edition of the Journal of
Epidemiology and Community Health, included about 12,500 Swedes born in
In sixth grade, the students were asked to name the three classmates they
best liked working with at school.
"Favorite" students were named by at least seven of their classmates.
"Popular" students got four to six nominations. "Accepted" kids were named by
two or three of their classmates. "Peripheral" students were named by only one
of their peers, and "marginalized" students weren't picked by anyone.
Decades later, when the students had matured into 50-year-olds, those in the
"marginalized" and "peripheral" groups were more likely than their peers to
have ever been hospitalized for certain conditions.
For instance, 559 men and 483 women had ever been hospitalized for mental or
behavioral disorders. Those who had been in the "marginalized" group in sixth
grade were about twice as likely to have been hospitalized for those reasons as
people who were "favorites" in sixth grade.
Among men, hospitalization for alcohol abuse, accidents, injury, drug
dependence, and endocrine, nutritional, or metabolic disorders were more common
for those who had been "marginalized" in sixth grade.
Among women, hospitalization for disorders of the digestive system,
musculoskeletal system, or connective tissue were among the conditions that
were more common for those who had been in the "marginalized" group as
The study doesn't show why the unpopular kids were more likely to be
hospitalized -- or why they were unpopular in the first place.
But the researcher -- graduate student Ylva Almquist, MSc, of the Centre for
Health Equity Studies in Stockholm, Sweden, says the social class of the kids'
parents didn't affect the results.