The study by University of Pittsburgh and University of Helsinki researchers found children and adolescents who respond with anger to life events have a greater risk of developing metabolic syndrome, a precursor to heart disease.
Indications of metabolic syndrome include high blood pressure, weight gain, insulin resistance and elevated cholesterol levels.
The researchers examined hostility levels and cardiovascular risk in 134 American children aged 8 to 10 and 15 to 17. They found children who had high scores on hostility tests were more likely to exhibit metabolic syndrome three years later than children who didn't have high hostility scores.
Obesity and insulin resistance were the two highest risk factors found in hostile children in the follow-up, the study says.
Unhealthy lifestyles such as physical inactivity, poor diet, smoking and alcohol use can be a way that hostile children and adolescents cope, behavior that can contribute to development of metabolic syndrome, the authors suggest in the May issue of Health Psychology.
They say the study findings could be used to evaluate youngsters' behavioral risk to developing these potential health problems.
"There is a need for interventions designed to reduce hostility in young people to prevent the precursors to cardiovascular disease, like obesity or type 2 diabetes, which has become a huge health problem in children in the U.S.," researcher Karen A. Matthews says in a news release.
Here's where you can find advice for teens on dealing with anger.