Teenagers who smoke, drink alcohol and eat junk food are far more likely to be unhappy than their peers, researchers have claimed.

Researchers from the Institute for Social and Economic Research, Essex University, surveyed 5,000 children on their appearance, family, friends, school and life in general. The scientists then rated the children's happiness.

The study found that those who never drank alcohol were between four and six times happier than their peers who did, while those who didn't smoke were five times happier than those that did.

Co-author of the report, Cara Booker, claimed that teenagers might turn to drinking and smoking as a way of coping with unhappiness. She said: "Another explanation could be that youths who smoke and drink first fit themselves into certain groups that tend to be unhappier, and then they find themselves unhappy. It becomes a vicious cycle.

"It's probably a combination of both. Some will take up smoking because they want to feel more adult, but then find themselves hanging out with people who are less happy and then they become less happy.

"But if you're participating in sports and have a social group who are also interested in the same things, you're happier versus not doing much of anything."

Posted by Robert Mair on 5/3/2012