Children relentlessly bullied for being small or fat may not go on to be unhappy as an adult, new research suggests.
Scientists found that such biomarkers have ‘no relation’ to happiness in later life – contradicting a host of evidence stating the opposite.
For years, it has been suggested that children can be left hurt decades after being tormented by cruel peers in the playground.
But the new 20-year study, deemed the first of its kind, disproves the theory and suggests happiness is self-created.
A new study suggests that children who are relentlessly bullied for being small or fat may not go on to be unhappy as an adult
Professor Alex Bryson, from University College London, was the lead researcher of the paper, which was published in the PLOS ONE journal.
He said: ‘This is the first study to examine the childhood antecedents of happiness in adulthood and we found no significant associations.
‘While other studies have shown childhood biomarkers are predictive of other adult outcomes… the same biomarkers appear to have no relation with adult happiness.’
How was the study carried out?
The researchers, which included a team based at the Labour Institute for Economic Research, Helsinki, assessed eight childhood biomarkers on adult health.
These included: body fat, height, pulse, insulin, creatinine (high levels signal kidney problems), systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure and triglycerides.
Some 2,000 children had their measurements taken at the start of the study. They were then quizzed about their happiness 20 years later.
Even after accounting for poor diets and lower education levels, previously linked to unhappiness, the findings remained true.
THE DANGERS OF NOT HAVING ANY FRIENDS
If you’ve ever felt like everyone else has more friends than you do, you’re not alone.
But a University of British Columbia study earlier this week found that even believing this is true could affect your happiness.
The study found that new university students consistently think their peers have more friends and spend more time socializing than they do.
Even when it’s not true, believing so affected students’ well being and sense of belonging.
The results are complicated
But the researchers warned the results are complex, and that happiness are linked to biomarkers – but not directly.
For example, being obese can make someone unhappy as it may make them think they are ugly because of their body fat, they said.
It is possible that happier people have healthier lifestyles, therefore suggesting that happier ones don’t have biomarkers such as body fat.
While researchers said it could be that adults know how to make themselves happy, and partake in hobbies to keep a smile on their face.
‘We know what we like’
Professor Bryson added: ‘Intuitively, we know what we like – being with friends, going to the cinema. And in the moment, we know what’s likely to make us happy.
‘Evidence from app-devices that ask people at random moments mostly confirm that sex and intimacy comes top and work and being sick in bed come bottom.
‘In general, we’d usually rather be outdoors in green spaces, and doing things with friends than sat at work.’
A study by researchers at the University of Montreal in 2014 found that being bullied as a child can cause adults to become more stressed.
They showed the nasty comments endured through school can lead to an increased level of cortisol – the stress hormone.
While the year before, Duke University scientists confirmed that bullying victims are at risk of being left depressed as adults.