NUI Galway Survey Finds Irish Youth Happier and Healthier than those in the UK

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

An in-depth comparison of health and well-being between children in Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales reveals that childhood in Ireland is healthier and happier than in neighbouring countries. The survey, co-authored by NUI Galway was conducted in collaboration with the World Health Organisation, includes information from more than 20,000 children aged 11-15 years. The 136-page report 'Young People's Health in Great Britain and Ireland' looks at issues like health, symptoms, well-being, eating patterns, physical activity, substance use, family and peer relationships and school life. Irish children are more likely than their UK counterparts to report high life satisfaction, and less likely to report feeling low or having poor body image. In this country, children are more likely to engage in physical activity and less likely to spend excessive time on computers or on games console use. They are also most likely to live with both parents and in bigger households, to report that they are able to talk to their fathers about things that bother them and to spend time with friends after school. The report also highlights the lack of data on sexual behaviour among Irish adolescents. "These patterns uncovered illustrate how we compare with our nearest neighbours" said Dr. Saoirse Nic Gabhainn of the Health Promotion Research Centre, NUI Galway, one of the authors. "This report goes into greater depth on these issues than we have ever had before, showing differences between boys and girls, age groups and children from different family backgrounds". Dr Nic Gabhainn added: "It is important that we recognise the differences as well as the similarities between children in the UK and Ireland. This report suggests that it is important not just to borrow unquestioningly from UK policy and practice when we are trying to improve child health – but that we need to work out where we are similar and where we are not and be more selective in what we do". In the report, age, gender and inter-country differences are documented, as well as patterns in youth health and well-being by levels of family affluence. Copies of the document are available from hbsc@nuigalway.ie or download www.nuigalway.ie/hbsc/
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