With adolescence, psychological development is inextricably connected to physical concerns, and this factor alone contributes to potentials of lifetime health issues as deriving from the adolescent years. Setting aside the physical alterations common to all adolescents, the reality is that teens suffering from any type of chronic illness or disorder are at great risk to be further hampered, in terms of their over-all well-being. Somewhere between fourteen to eighteen percent of adolescents are afflicted by arthritis, epilepsy, heart disease, asthma, mental illness, and virtually any other ailment adults may manifest. As adolescents, however, they are on dangerous ground beyond the issues of the illnesses, for the social components of the adolescent world are both largely immature and greatly influential. The teen with an illness, consequently, is subject to severe marginalization from his or her peers, far beyond that of adult environments. This may easily promote psychological problems in years to come, as defense mechanisms adopted to combat such a stigmatizing may create self-destructive, or certainly unhealthy, psychological dilemmas in adulthood.
This particular, if inherently complex, issue aside, the greater reality is that adolescents are at risk to develop wellness problems in adulthood merely by virtue of the fact that these years mark the beginning of adult behaviors, which typically become ingrained as habit. As adolescence is a crucial time in which to commence practices in diet and self-maintenance that are healthy, so too is it the period when the converse may be inculcated, with unfortunate results for the adult years. For example, environmental elements have been shown to greatly determine how adolescents actually view themselves, which must influence how they perceive the importance of their health. Specific groups of adolescents manifest an “adolescent” type of comorbidity, in which an illness is exacerbated by risky behaviors entered into and/or unhealthy living conditions due to poverty. The pattern becomes exponential, as the debilitating effects of the illness induce diet and substance habits which, originating as reactions in the teen years, are practiced through adulthood and discourage a healthy state of being.