Up-to-date survey "Health Behaviour in School-aged Children" (HBSC) by WHO

The newest cross-national survey “Health Behavior in School-aged Children” (HBSC) is published on March 2016.

The WHO cross-national survey “Health Behavior in School-aged Children” (HBSC) covers diverse aspects of adolescent health and social behaviour, including self-assessment of mental health; obesity and body image; dietary habits; engagement in physical activity; support from families and peers; tobacco, alcohol and cannabis use; and bullying. This year’s report is named “Growing up unequal: gender and socio-economical differences in young people’s health and well-being” and it’s highlighting these issues in adolescent life.
“Health behaviours and social habits and attitudes acquired in the critical second decade of a young person’s life can carry on into adulthood and affect the entire life-course,” said Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe. One of the leading idea is that “A good start can last a lifetime.”
HBSC-survey is done in every fourth year and the newest report is published March 2016. In this report the survey was done and data collected during years 2013-2014 and it was focused on youngsters at age 11-, 13- and 15-years. Altogether there were about 220 000 participants on survey. In Finland around 5900 adolescents participated on this survey.
How Finns are doing compared international way to other youngsters? Positive trend is to notice that Finnish youngsters are participating more on physical activity on average compered to age-mates all around the world. WHO guidelines that physical activity of children and adolescents should be at least one hour per day with intensity that stresses your cardiovascular system. Although Finns are doing better than many other countries, still we are also behind the guideline values too. Unfortunately. We are not the worst cases, but things could be better too!
Almost the half of Finnish 11-years old boys and one third of girls report at least one hour physical activity each day. This percentage decreased when youngsters reached the age of 15 – at that point only one of fifth of boys and one of eight of girls reached the minimum of physical activity guidelines.
Eating habbits
Breakfast is important for a good day start. Finnish youngsters ate breakfast more often than survey age-mates all around the world. For Finns problematic area dinner or supper with family – unfortunately that is more rare in our culture than other cultures of survey. Finnish youngsters ate also less fruits and vegetables than age-mates of survey. Positive finding was that soft drinks and sweets are not eaten daily as much in Finnish culture as other survey cultures.
Sosio-economical status and its influence on overweight and obesity
In Malta the amount of overweight or obese youngsters in age-groups 11, 13 and 15 are the biggest. In every age category the amount was approximately 27%. In Finland the amount of overweight and obese youngsters are quite close to international mean value. 11-14% of Finnish girls are overweight or obese in every survey age-group, the same values in Finnish boys are 16-20%.
It was also noticed that there was connection between sosio-economical status of family and obesity of youngsters in most of the countries participated in survey. This phenomena was observed also in Finnish data. Overweight and obesity of children and youngsters were more common in families of low-level of sosio-economical status than in families with higher sosio-economical status.
Bullying via internet was more rare in Finland than in other countries participated in survey. Finland and other Northern countries were in the lowest third of amount of internet bullying cases. In school Finnish children and youngsters were bullied as often as international age-mates on average. Although it should be always remembered that each and every bullying case is unnecessary and we adults should fight against bullying in every effort that we can.
General info
The WHO survey “Health Behavior in School-aged Children” (HBSC) is gathered and analyzed in every fourth year. The survey covers 42 countries in Europe and North America. Data collected for the study are based on surveys completed by thousands of children and youngsters, thereby ensuring that their voices and concerns can be taken fully into account when WHO frames its European strategies, policies and actions for improving child and adolescent health and well-being. The study feeds into a growing body of evidence calling for more effective and targeted interventions by governments and policy-makers to tackle the effects of social, health and gender inequalities among young people in Europe.
Concerning Finland the HBSC-survey and report is organized by Department of Health Sciences of University of Jyväskylä.
The whole report are available for free: http://www.euro.who.int/en/hbsc-report-2016
For more information, please contact:
Health promotion and health education, Department of Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä
Ph.D.Kristiina Ojala, kristiina.ojala@jyu.fi
Ph.D Jorma Tynjälä, jorma.a.tynjala@jyu.fi
Ph.D Raili Välimaa, raili.valimaa@jyu.fi