Children who impress their peers at school tend to go on to enjoy better health as adults, according to Swedish researchers.
The study was based on a 30-year follow-up of more than 14,000 children born in 1953, with their popularity, power and status assessed by asking who they most preferred to work with at school. This was then matched against information on hospital admissions between 1973 and 2003.
Results showed the children who were furthest down the pecking order at school had the highest overall risk of serious health problems as an adult.
The least popular children had a nine times higher risk of ischaemic heart disease and were also more at risk of diabetes, drug and alcohol abuse, while their risk of mental health problems was more than doubled, said the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
The researchers suggested children with a low status might lack social support, which could lead to a more negative self-image and poor choices in life.