20 Terrible Teenage Health Habits Older People Still Have

Don't let these holdover habits derail your health as an adult.

Ah, youth. As they say, it's wasted on the young. But take it from us: just because you're feeling nostalgic for those carefree teenage days doesn't mean you should try to recreate them. For many people, those habits from your teenage years never really evolved into grown-up ones, often leading to catastrophic results for our health. We've rounded up the worst offenders when it comes to teenage habits older people hang onto instead of ditching. And when you want to break free of those stresses weighing you down, start with the 40 Things to Let Go of in Your 40s.

Skipping Breakfast

energy before noon

Breakfast is called the most important meal of the day for a reason. And while you may have been able to leave the house on empty at 17, doing so at 40 isn't such a great plan. In fact, research published in the British Journal of Nutrition reveals that eating breakfast at home may even reduce your risk of weight gain. And when you need more energy to fuel your day, start with the 25 Non-Coffee Ways to Boost Your Energy Levels.

Eating Whole Meals Out of Vending Machines

Friends Eating Ice Cream Anti-Aging

While you may have been able to eat tons of sugar as a teen, doing so as an adult is a risky proposition, to put it nicely. In addition to weight gain and diabetes, research published in the New England Journal of Medicine even links high glucose levels with an increased risk of dementia. And when you want to nix that sweet tooth for good, This Is the Safest Way to Cut Sugar Out of Your Diet.

Sleeping In

sleeping man

Just because you don't have a traditional work schedule doesn't mean you should wake up at noon like you're a teenager. Not only is early morning sunlight a potential weight regulator, according to researchers at Northwestern University, but also research suggests that early birds eat healthier, too. (Also, the whole "not wasting your entire day" thing is a pretty good argument, too.) And for a more restful night, start with the 20 Nighttime Habits Guaranteed to Help You Sleep Better.

Not Caring at All About Nutrition

Eating all low fat things can back fire on you

Those nutrition labels may not have mattered much to you as a teen, but they should in your adult life. And sadly, only about 61.6 percent of adults give those nutrition facts any thought.

Skipping Sunscreen

Woman Applying Sunscreen Anti-Aging

Even teenagers should be putting on sunscreen when they go out, but the odds that you were particularly diligent about this habit as a kid are slim. However, if you want to slow the aging process and reduce your risk of skin cancer, it's imperative that you put on sunscreen every single day, regardless of the weather. And sadly, just over 22 percent of adults wear it regularly. And for more things you're too old for: Here are the 40 Words People Over 40 Wouldn't Understand.

Letting Stress Build

Stressed out man

That simmering stress you carried around as a teen was no good for your health then, and it's no good for you as an adult, either. Unfortunately, research suggests stress is on the rise among adults, and may be having a deleterious effect on our well-being. In addition to increasing cortisol levels, putting you at risk for weight gain and harmful belly fat, stress has been linked to Alzheimer's, as well. So, whenever possible, enjoy some meditation, go for a walk, or just take a few deep breaths. And when you want to reduce stress for good, start with the 30 Easy Ways to Fight Stress.

Eating Fast Food

millennial eating burger

It's no surprise that fast food isn't good for you, but most teenagers can usually get away with a few fast food meals a week, anyway. Unfortunately, most haven't given up the habit in adulthood, with 8 out of 10 Americans eating fast food every week. Instead of those fast food snacks, start making your meal plan healthier today with the 50 Best Foods For Your Brain.

Ignoring Aches and Pains

Rib pain surprising cancer symptom

"Walk it off!" Guess what: You're not a kid anymore! Those minor aches and pains that you would have brushed off as a teen often continue to go unaddressed in adulthood. However, you'd be surprised at how quickly an injury or sudden pain can turn into something serious, so see your doctor ASAP when something new emerges. And for more ways to stay healthy, Here's How Many Calories You Need to Eat to Stay Young.

Hitting Snooze

alarm clock how to sleep better

You probably didn't think twice about hitting the snooze button as a teenager, knowing mom or dad would eventually come in and get you out of bed, anyway. However, many of us still hit snooze on a regular basis as adults, disturbing our internal clocks and making us late along the way. In fact, research published in PLOS One reveals that waking abruptly can cause sleep inertia, which can affect alertness and overall cognitive function. So, by the time you're an adult, try to nip this habit in the bud, preferably in favor of a natural wake-up.

Eating Until You're Stuffed

weight loss motivation

Teens often eat until they literally can't bear the thought of another bite. As adults, many of us do the same, and have the spare tires to prove it. However, eating until you're satisfied, not bursting, can help you shed those extra pounds without feeling deprived. And for some healthy living advice from ageless celebs, check out How Sharon Stone Makes 60 Look Like 30.

Gobbling Up Trans Fats

Woman Eating Donut

As a teen, you probably couldn't pick out a trans fat in a lineup. (And did it even matter? When you're 15 years old, your body is basically made of rubber.) But sadly, for many adults, that still holds true.

However, acquainting yourself with where they might be lurking will serve you well in the long run: in fact, according to research conducted at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, animals gained more weight on a trans-fat-rich diet than those who ate the same number of calories without the trans fats.

Sitting All Day

energy before noon

You probably didn't think too much about how much time you spent sitting as a kid. However, you probably should have. Even adults who know better tend to spend about half their waking hours sitting, putting them at risk for diabetes, weight gain, heart disease, and even death, according to research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Eating in Front of the TV

40 compliments

If you consumed virtually every meal in front of the TV as a teen, you're not alone. Unfortunately, this habit often carries over into adulthood with harmful effects: research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition links distracted eating, like those meals consumed during Netflix binges, to weight gain.

Skipping the Gym

boost your confidence

For many teenagers, hitting the gym just isn't on their agenda. And sadly, a lack of exercise is a habit many adults are guilty of, too. In fact, the CDC reveals that up to 80 percent of adults don't get enough exercise.

Skimping on Veggies

Woman Eating Salad

Convenience foods tend to be a staple for teenagers, with few fruits and veggies making it onto the menu. The bad news? The same is true for many adults, with 90 percent of American adults getting fewer fruits and veggies than recommended.


Businessman Smoking Cigarette Anti-Aging

You knew that smoking wasn't good for you when you did it as a teen, but that doesn't keep many people from lighting up as adults. In fact, research suggests that more than 15 percent of the adult population still puffs on a cigarette from time to time.

Mindless Snacking

Couple, sandwiches

A few extra calories here and there probably didn't worry you too much when you were a teenager. However, many of us don't scale back as our metabolisms slow later in life, contributing to our ever-growing obesity rates.

Not Seeing the Dentist

Lab Results

Your teenage fear of the dentist probably didn't go away just because you hit adulthood. Many teens aren't exactly thrilled to have their teeth cleaned and cavities filled, and many adults feel the same way. In fact, research reveals that one-third of Americans hadn't seen their dentist in the previous year. Unfortunately, skipping the dentist may lead to tooth loss, and may even contribute to heart health issues over time.

Consuming Too Much Sodium

ditching salt can get rid of wrinkles

You probably didn't give much thought to your sodium intake as a teenager, and for many adults, that's still true. In fact, about 90 percent of Americans get too much sodium in their diet, putting themselves at risk for high blood pressure and stroke.

Staying Out All Night

Tired Business Man

Those late nights you enjoyed as a teenager are often hard to give up in adulthood. However, the exhaustion, irritability, and mostly-ruined day you get to enjoy after staying out until sunrise just aren't worth it as an adult. And while you may have been better equipped to handle all-nighters as a teen, don't think they weren't affecting you: research published in Sleep reveals that just a single night of sleep deprivation affected adolescent study subjects' performance on an array of tasks given them. And when you want to find out why you're not sleeping as well at night, discover the 40 Ways Your Sleep Changes Over 40.

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Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more
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