Youngsters going down a healthy path

Substance use by young people in Scotland has declined in the past decade, according to a new national report.

Researchers at the University found that the rate of daily of smoking among 15-year olds has fallen from 16 per cent to 11 per cent since 2002.

Alcohol consumption falling

The number of young people drinking alcohol at least once a week has fallen by over a third, and experimental and regular cannabis use has halved since 2002.

Nearly 7000 pupils were interviewed for the report - funded by NHS Health Scotland - which provides a picture of the wellbeing of young people aged 11, 13 and 15 years.

Eating habits improving

Findings show eating habits have improved, with daily sweet consumption falling by a third, and consumption of crisps and chips halving between 2002 and 2010.

In the area of general wellbeing and life satisfaction, the majority of young people (87%) are satisfied with their life, although levels of happiness (among boys and girls) and confidence (among girls), both of which had increased in previous years, shows decreases since 2006.

Trends in family life

In the area of family life researchers found more children reporting that their family is financially well off, and an increasing number of children (especially boys) feel they can talk to their fathers about their problems.

Rates of physical activity remain low, with 19 per cent of boys and 11 per cent of girls meeting the Scottish Government’s weekly guidelines for moderate to vigorous physical activity. In spite of this, approximately half of young people in Scotland walk to school, and TV viewing has decreased since 2002.

These recent findings are extremely encouraging with improvements in several areas relating to children’s overall wellbeing. Scotland has participated in this international collaborative study for two decades giving us a unique opportunity to track key areas of health among young people and compare Scotland’s progress to other countries.

Professor Candace CurrieDirector of the Child and Adolescent Research Unit

The findings from the Health Behaviours in School-aged Children (HBSC) Scotland National Report looks at trends from surveys completed in 1990,1994,1998,2002, 2006 and 2010.

The project was led by researchers at the Child and Adolescent Health Research Unit, based at the Moray House School of Education