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Declining Well-Being in Young Swedes Born in 1990 Versus 1974

Journal article
Authors Ebba Brann
John Chaplin
Monica Leu Agelii
Agneta Sjöberg
Aimon Niklasson
Kerstin Albertsson-Wikland
Lauren Lissner
Published in The Journal of adolescent health : official publication of the Society for Adolescent Medicine
Volume 60
Issue 3
Pages 306–312
ISSN 1879-1972
Publication year 2017
Published at Institute of Medicine, School of Public Health and Community Medicine
Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Physiology
Institute of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Public Health Epidemiology Unit
Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Pediatrics
Department of Food and Nutrition, and Sport Science
Pages 306–312
Language en
Subject categories Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology


Well-being is affected by the environment, including societal changes. In this study, specific dimensions of well-being were compared in two cohorts of Swedish adolescents born 16 years apart.Two groups of 18-year-olds, "Grow up Gothenburg" 1974 and 1990 birth cohorts, completed a self-reported questionnaire including the Gothenburg Well-Being in adolescence scale (GWBa). In addition, height and weight were measured, resulting in 4,362 participants (1974 birth cohort) and 5,151 participants (1990 birth cohort) with age, height, weight, and well-being data. The GWBa consists of a total score and five dimensions: mood, physical condition, energy, self-esteem, and stress balance.Total well-being was significantly lower in the later-born cohort, and the greatest difference was seen for the dimension stress balance (feeling calm, unconcerned, unstressed, and relaxed), although effect sizes were modest. In both boys and girls, well-being was lower for all dimensions in the later-born cohort, with the exception of Self-esteem in girls, which was higher in the later-born cohort. In both cohorts, boys reported higher well-being than girls for all dimensions. The mean body mass index z-score was higher in boys from the later-born cohort, but after adjusting for weight status, the differences in well-being between the cohorts persisted.Well-being was lower in the later-born cohort, particularly for the dimension stress balance. Differences were not explained by the shift in weight status indicating that other societal changes have had an impact on well-being levels. Managing high levels of stress might be an area of intervention in adolescents for improved well-being.

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