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Positive changes in the health and well-being of Estonian youth

The Estonian National Institute for Health Development (NIHD) has published some of the results from their 2017/18 HBSC survey.  

According to the latest figures, young people who try smoking are doing so at a later age, the popularity of smoking hookah has declined significantly and the percentage of students who have never consumed alcohol has increased. Additionally, the consumption of alcohol and smoking at least once a week has decreased among 15-year-olds. 

“We are pleased to report that 86% of Estonian students aged 11, 13 and 15, rate their health as either 'good' or 'very good'. These results support earlier studies that found that boys consider themselves healthier and more satisfied with life than girls,” commented NIHD researcher Leila Oja.

“The current study found that young people take up smoking later. Four years ago 44% of 15-year-olds took up smoking at the age of 13 or earlier, this study shows that their proportion has dropped to 28%. The percentage of light smokers (at least once a week) has remained the same - about 5% on average,” said Oja. "About half (52%) of young people who have tried smoking started with e-cigarettes. While rates of snus consumption remained similar to those found in the previous HBSC study, smoking hookah was found to have decreased significantly between surveys, falling from 28% in 2014 to only 13% 2018."

Like cigarette smoking, the age at which young people first drink alcohol is getting older. Nevertheless, rates of adolescent alcohol consumption and especially drunkenness are still very worrying. 

The good news is that the consumption of fruit and vegetables has increased year after year. Fruit and vegetable consumption used to be much higher among girls, but in these latest results, we have seen an increase in healthy dietary choices among boys. Unfortunately, young people still eat sweets too often and very rarely eat fish. 

13% of young people consume energy drinks at least once a week, with the figure twice as high among boys as girls (19% versus 8%).

15% of students do not eat breakfast on school days, the number is similar among both boys and girls. The proportion of students not eating breakfast on school days is the highest among 15-year-olds.

The 2017/18 HBSC survey was the 7th successive study carried out in Estonia. A total of 4727 fifth, seventh and ninth grade students from all over Estonia participated in the study, assessing their own health and health behaviour.

So far, the results of the Estonian Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children 2017/18 study have been published as a collection of standardized charts on the NIHD website. A full report on the 2017/18 survey results will be published later this year.

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item 5533
[29-04-2019 to 30-11-2019]


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