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10 Science Articles on Teen Health

Teens encounter a wealth of resources on health across media platforms. Health literacy based on scientific research helps teens to discern what is useful among all these options, and to make personal decisions about their bodies, activities, and habits. This collection of adapted research articles provides students with approachable, empirical evidence of healthy approaches to nutrition, sleep, vaccination, and mental health. Engage students with standards-matched adaptations, introductory video content, comprehension questions, and vocabulary to further your lesson outcomes. Each adapted article also comes with additional suggestions for activities to enhance student understanding and make the class more exciting.

Contents

  • Nutrition
  • Sleep
  • Routine Vaccinations
  • Mental Health

Nutrition

1. What Makes You Choose the Food You Eat?

Abstract: Have you ever thought about why you eat what you eat? Is it because it’s tasty? Healthy? Trendy? There are many factors that influence what an adolescent eats. But health is not always the most important one. We wanted to better understand these factors. So we did a scientific review of surveys and studies to see what adolescents eat worldwide. We also explored how economic status and food environment affect food choices. We learned that many adolescents value food as a way to express their individuality. It also gives them a sense of belonging with their peers. We also discovered that limited access to healthy food is a problem in many areas. So are advertisements promoting unhealthy food. That is why countries all over the world need nutrition programs that make healthy food more available, affordable and appealing to adolescents.

2. How Does the Food You Eat Affect Your Growth and Development?

Abstract: Hungry? Should you eat an apple or potato chips? Does it really matter? It turns out that what you eat as a child and adolescent affects your growth and development. It can also affect your health as an adult! We wanted to understand the link between nutrition and adolescent growth. We did a review of different scientific studies to see what is currently known about this. We found that not eating enough food, eating the wrong foods, and eating too much food all affect the body’s systems. But the effects are different in each case. We also learned that the negative effects of poor nutrition aren’t permanent if they’re corrected at the right time.

Sleep

3. How Do Smartphones Affect Our Sleep?

Abstract: Do you own a smartphone? They are very useful and often we can’t imagine life without them. But they could be harmful as well. For example, people can get addicted to smartphones. As with any other addiction, this can lead to various problems. So does it affect our sleep? To find out, we asked 1,043 students to complete two questionnaires. This helped us determine how many of the students suffer from smartphone addiction. It also showed how many suffer from poor sleep. We found out that smartphone addiction is pretty common among young students. We also found a strong connection between smartphone addiction and poor sleep.

4. Why Do Sharks Sleep?

Abstract: We all know what it feels like when we have not had enough sleep. You might feel tired, have trouble concentrating, or even be grumpy and irritable. Despite it being such an important part of our daily lives, sleep still remains a bit of a mystery! To help answer the question of why we sleep, scientists have started researching sleep in other animals. This can help us understand how and why sleep evolved. Sharks are hundreds of millions of years old. In fact, they are the oldest living group of jawed vertebrates! Because of this, we think they could help unlock important information about the evolution of sleep. We studied the metabolic rate and behavior of draughtsboard sharks (Cephaloscyllium isabellum) over a 24-hour period. Our results show that when sharks sleep, they typically have a flat body posture and a reduced metabolic rate. Our study supports the hypothesis that the conservation of energy is a core function of sleep. It also provides insight into its evolution.

Routine Vaccination

5. Why Do Measles Survivors Get Sicker?

Abstract: Measles is one of the major causes of death among children, even though there is a safe and effective vaccine against it. In fact, because fewer people have been getting vaccinated, the number of people dying from measles is increasing. Even if those who catch it survive, they tend to get sick more often than those who have never had the virus. Why is that? We wanted to find out about the long-term effects of measles on the immune system – perhaps they would hold the answer. We collected blood samples from 77 unvaccinated children before and after they got infected with the virus during an outbreak in the Netherlands. We tracked the changes in antibodies (the particles that fight off pathogens) in the children’s bloodstream. We found that measles wipes out up to 73% of these antibodies, leaving the children unprotected against other diseases for months, and sometimes years. These findings further show the importance of vaccination. 

6. Why get vaccinated when the flu vaccine doesn’t work well?

Abstract: Have you ever had the flu? Most people recover from it pretty fast. However, the flu still kills thousands of children and adults each year. This makes it a big health problem across the world. The best way we can prevent flu infection is by getting vaccinated. The problem with the flu vaccine is that in some years it doesn’t work as well as others. For example, in 2017-2018 the flu vaccine was less effective in preventing infection among vaccinated people compared to previous years. We wanted to study the impact of less effective vaccines in preventing flu-related infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. We found that even when the flu vaccines don’t work well, they prevent a large number of people from getting infected or hospitalized and save thousands of lives. This effect is called herd immunity. We also learned that when vaccines are less effective, it is most important for school-age children, young adults, and the elderly to be vaccinated.

7. How Can We Prevent Cervical Cancer in Mongolia?

Abstract: Have you ever heard of cervical cancer? It’s one of the most common forms of cancer among women. Most of the cases occur in countries with lower incomes and fewer resources. The leading cause of cervical cancer is human papillomavirus (HPV). There are several effective vaccines against HPV. But introducing them in the vaccination calendar could cost a lot. Would it be worth it? We used a mathematical model to see if HPV vaccination would be cost-effective in Mongolia. It helped us estimate the benefits and costs of introducing an HPV vaccine there. We found out that it would cost between $2.4 and $3.1 million (USD) but could save nearly 4,000 lives! We believe that introducing HPV vaccines in Mongolia would be cost-effective.

Mental Health

8. Can peer pressure help teens make safer decisions?

Abstract: Most people act differently with their friends than they do when they are alone. Teens who see their friends make risky choices are more likely to make risky decisions themselves. We wanted to learn how the brain processes information about other peoples’ actions. In our experiment, teens played a game where they chose between a safe gamble and a risky gamble. We separated teens into two groups based on whether they had ever used alcohol, tobacco or other drugs. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure brain activity in some participants. We found that teens who had never used drugs had a stronger response to seeing their peers choose safe gambles. This result shows that positive peer influence can make a difference!

9. How do gender stereotypes impact girls’ interest in science?

Abstract: Has anyone ever said that you couldn’t or shouldn’t do something because of one of your traits? If so, you’ve probably been the victim of a stereotype. A stereotype is a set of shared beliefs based on a trait or the identity of a group. A common stereotype is that women are not as good at or interested in science as men. This can result in fewer women participating in the sciences. We wanted to know if and when these gender stereotypes about science affect children and adolescents. We also wanted to know if stereotypes cause girls to be less interested in and take part less in these fields. To find out, we conducted surveys and laboratory experiments. We found that very young students believed these gender stereotypes. Girls were less interested in participating in computer science and engineering if they believed the stereotypes. So, teachers and schools should try to generate interest in these fields at an early age.

10. How Can Gratitude Help Healthcare Workers?

Abstract: Have you ever felt stressed? It’s not very pleasant. Most healthcare workers feel stress every day. Often that prolonged stress leads to emotional exhaustion. There are different ways to deal with this, but they can take too long or are expensive. What if there was a simpler way to reduce emotional exhaustion? Many studies show that gratitude can increase happiness. We asked healthcare workers to write a letter of gratitude. We assessed their levels of emotional exhaustion before and after this assignment. After using our method, healthcare workers had lower levels of emotional exhaustion. They also said they were happier.

That’s Not All!

 For more health content, check out our collections on the following topics:

Or browse our entire archive of Health and Medicine articles.

Photo: cottonbro studio on Pexels.

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