Well-being during the transition to adulthood : analyses of family life and eating healthily in Great Britain
The aim of this thesis is to examine the relationships between family life, wellbeing and eating healthily among young adults in Britain who are going through the transition from adolescence to adulthood. The research objectives are addressed using both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Secondary analysis was performed on two large, nationally representative data sets, the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) and the Health Survey for England (HSFE). Data was also collected, mainly using biographical interviews, from a group of young adults at a college of further education in Essex during 2001. Several important findings are reported. Using a typology of parenting 'styles', it seems that young people who are close to their parents in adolescence, and who experience appropriate rules and boundaries (classified as having authoritative parents) are more likely to report better social, emotional, physical and mental well-being when they are aged 16-24 than their peers who experience non-authoritative parenting when at secondary school. Parenting style is more clearly associated with later well-being than whether young people grew up in an intact, lone parent or stepfamily. Young people with better wellbeing are more likely to participate in post-compulsory education and employment whereas young people with the worst well-being are more likely to be unemployed or otherwise economically inactive (though direction of causality is not determined in the research). An important objective was to examine whether young people have diets that are likely to meet recommendations for helping to prevent the onset of cancer and coronary heart disease. Many young people did not meet the recommended targets for fat and fibre and this was closely associated with the transition to adulthood. Eating healthily was at odds with young people's need to differentiate from the family whilst strengthening bonds with peers. After the turmoil of leaving school, some young people started to make healthier food choices, and this was associated with having a better sense of well-being and authoritative parents in adolescence.