Toronto: Children with aggressive behavior are more likely to suffer from lifestyle-related illnesses and visit hospitals more often later in life compared to their peers without such traits, a new study has claimed.

The research, published in the CMAJ (the Canadian Medical Association Journal), found a strong link between childhood aggression and increase in lifestyle-related illnesses, such as obesity, diabetes, alcohol dependence among others.

The study involving over 3,000 youths in Canada found that childhood aggression resulted in 8.1 per cent increase in their medical visits, 10.7 per cent up in injuries and 44.2 per cent increase in lifestyle-related illnesses.

Childhood aggression in young women (18 to 23 years old) was also found to have resulted in higher use of gynaecologic services.

For this study, the researchers from the University of Sherbrooke, Concordia University, University of California (Davis) and University of Ottawa used data from the Concordia Longitudinal Risk Project that involved 3913 people, who were in grades 1, 4 and 7 from 1976 to 1978 but received health care between 1992 and 2006.

"Our results confirm that there are specific behavioural characteristics, identifiable in childhood, that can have enduring consequences to physical health and can predict increased use of health services in adulthood," Dr Caroline Temcheff of University of Sherbrooke and co-authors wrote.

"Childhood aggression should be considered a health risk when designing interventions to improve public health, particularly those targeting children and families."

According to the researchers, childhood aggression directly and positively predicted overall use of health services in adulthood for the participants of this study.

"These associations were seen even when controlling for the effects of sex, education and neighbourhood poverty."

Childhood likeability was correlated with lower usage of medical services, including those for injuries and dental visits.

"The direction of these effects is consistent with research suggesting that adults with larger social networks seem to have better health outcomes than those who are less socially connected," the authors said.

"Addressing problematic childhood behaviour and teaching appropriate ways of interacting, self-care and coping strategies to vulnerable children will probably require early preventive intervention to mitigate long-term risks to health," they added.

(Agencies)