Young people are happier and healthier shows study led by local academics

Young people are happier and healthier than their counterparts a decade ago, according to a major new study into the wellbeing of adolescents across Europe and North America.

A study, part of collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO ), sheds new light on the habits and happiness of 11 to 15 year-olds in over 40 different countries across a 16 year period (1994-2010 ). The Irish partners, Drs Saoirse Nic Gabhainn, Michal Molcho and Colette Kelly from the Health Promotion Research Centre in NUI Galway co-authored the study launched today.

Findings include some significant improvements in how young people report their own health and well-being. Overall, the results suggest that contemporary adolescents are in a better position than past generations.

NUI Galway’s Dr Saoirse Nic Gabhainn, Principal Investigator for Ireland, commented, “Adolescence is a crucial stage in life when you lay the foundation for adulthood, whether that’s healthy or otherwise. While there is much to celebrate about the health and well-being of many young people today, others continue to experience real and worrying problems.”

Over the last decade in Ireland there has been a decline in school-aged children drinking alcohol weekly and in experiencing multiple injuries. There have also been improvements in both self-rated health and ease of communication with parents.

However, the study found increased pressure from schoolwork and no reductions in bullying. The study also identified a significant rise in Ireland of children from less affluent families having more health complaints.

“By comparing today’s young people with their counterparts a decade ago we can better understand how their health is influenced by the circumstances in which they live; of real concern must now be the increases in social inequalities in Ireland, where children from poorer homes are more likely to report ill-health, and the gap between rich and poor has increased over time,” added Dr Nic Gabhainn.

 

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