Headlines: December 16th, 1998

New information just published on young people’s health has been described as a ‘national resource’ by the Chief Medical Officer.Liam Donaldson said: “This special report on children and young people gives us an unprecedented insight into the formative years when the foundation for a healthy life can be laid.”

‘The Health of Young People ’95-97′ is the most extensive survey of young peoples’ health ever commissioned by the Department of Health.

It covers information on the prevalence of specific health conditions and lifestyle patterns including eating habits, smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity and psychological well-being. It also has analysis by household income and social class.

The survey found a significant relationship between low income and poor psychological well-being in children in the five to 12 age group. Conversely, good eating habits, such as eating fruit and vegetables, were more likely amongst children in higher income families.

It also found that smoking among children aged 13-15 was higher in households where at least one parent smoked than in households where no adult smoked. In the same age group, once school activity was excluded, as many as 29% of girls and 44% of boys did not participate in physical activities lasting 30 minutes.

In the young adult age group of 16 to 24, key features were the proportion of young women who reported feeling overweight when they were not, and the high numbers of men and women still smoking despite public campaigns pointing out the ill effects.

Copies of the full report are available from HMSO: ISBN 0 11 322266 1, priced at seventy pounds.The report and summary booklet will be available on the internet early in the new year on at www.open.gov.uk/doh/dhhome.htm