The aim of the study was to investigate how psychosocial problems in childhood and adolescence associate with an unhealthy health behavior pattern among adolescents in Northern Finland. The study population consisted of 4350 participants, drawn from the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1986 Study. Health behavior patterns were assessed in adolescence and psychosocial problems in childhood and adolescence. Logistic regression analyses were performed to determine the associations. Several psychosocial problems predicted greater likelihood of engaging in unhealthy health behavior pattern. Externalizing problems in childhood predicted greater likelihood of engaging in unhealthy behavior patterns for girls. For both genders, externalizing problems and inattention in adolescence were associated with unhealthy health behavior patterns. Boys and girls with externalizing problems both in childhood and adolescence had an increased risk of unhealthy patterns. Psychosocial problems contribute to unhealthy lifestyles and should therefore be acknowledged when designing and targeting health promotion strategies aimed at adolescents.
Keywords: Adolescence; Childhood; Health behavior; Health behavior pattern; Psychosocial problems.