Religion During Adolescence Linked to Better Health in Young Adults

iStock

People who attend religious services, pray, or meditate regularly as kids and teens are less likely to have depression, smoke, use illegal drugs, or have sexually transmitted infections (STIs) than young adults without regular spiritual habits. Religious kids are also more like to report better overall life satisfaction and positivity, according to a study conducted at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston and published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

The Harvard researchers analyzed health information from mothers in the Nurses' Health Study II and more than 5,000 of their children in the Growing Up Today Study, who were followed for a period of 8 to 14 years. They controlled for factors like maternal health, socioeconomic status, and history of substance abuse or depression.

Compared to their counterparts who didn’t pray or meditate, young adults who attended religious services at least once a week during childhood and adolescence were:

  • 16 to 18 percent more likely to report being happy
  • 29 percent more likely to volunteer in their communities
  • 33 percent less likely to use illicit drugs
  • 30 percent less likely to have sex at a young age
  • 40 percent less likely to have STIs

Sourced from: American Journal of Epidemiology