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Positive cardiometabolic health (CMH) is defined as meeting recommended levels of multiple cardiometabolic risk factors in the absence of manifest disease. Prior work finds that few individuals—particularly members of minoritized racial and ethnic groups—meet these criteria. This study investigated whether psychological assets help adolescents sustain CMH in adulthood and explored interactions by race and ethnicity.

Methods and Results

Participants were 3478 individuals in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (49% female; 67% White, 15% Black, 11% Latinx, 6% other [Native American, Asian, or not specified]). In Wave 1 (1994–1995; mean age=16 years), data on 5 psychological assets (optimism, happiness, self‐esteem, belongingness, and feeling loved) were used to create a composite asset index (range=0–5). In Waves 4 (2008; mean age=28 years) and 5 (2016–2018; mean age=38 years), CMH was defined using 7 clinically assessed biomarkers. Participants with healthy levels of ≥6 biomarkers at Waves 4 and 5 were classified as maintaining CMH over time. The prevalence of CMH maintenance was 12%. Having more psychological assets was associated with better health in adulthood (odds ratio [OR]linear trend, 1.12 [95% CI, 1.01–1.25]). Subgroup analyses found substantive associations only among Black participants (OR, 1.35 [95% CI, 1.00–1.82]). Additionally, there was some evidence that racial and ethnic disparities in CMH maintenance may be less pronounced among participants with more assets.


Youth with more psychological assets were more likely to experience favorable CMH patterns 2 decades later. The strongest associations were observed among Black individuals. Fostering psychological assets in adolescence may help prevent cardiovascular disease and play an underappreciated role in shaping health inequities.


This article was originally published in Journal of the American Heart Association, volume 12, issue 2, in 2023.

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