YOUNG people are happier and healthier than ever before, according to Scots scientists.
A report compiled by the World Health Organisation and the University of St Andrews shed new light on the habits and happiness of 11 to 15 year olds in over 40 different countries.
The study, which took place over a 16-year-period, has shown that adolescents are in a better position than past generations.
Results show that over the last decade, more young people eat fruit and vegetables, are physically active on a daily basis, keep their teeth clean, did not suffer from injury, rate their health as excellent, practice safe sex and find it easy to talk to their parents.
They also showed a decline in young people experiencing bullying, drinking alcohol weekend, and increasing numbers living free from tobacco and cannabis.
Professor Candace Currie, the International Coordinator of the HBSC study and Professor of Child and Adolescent Health at the University of St Andrews, said the research was “a vital source of information for policy-makers, parents and young people themselves.”
She said: “Adolescence is a crucial stage in life when you lay the foundation for adulthood, whether that’s healthy or otherwise. And 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.”
The researchers behind the study warn that despite the generally positive findings, many – if not the majority – of adolescents living in Europe and North America, still do not meet the recommendations for healthy living.
In the Czech Republic, Denmark, Italy, Lithuania, Russia, Scotland, Slovenia, Switzerland and USA, fewer young people were physically active on a daily basis in 2010 than 2002.
Critically, several key groups still remain at risk of poor health, with potentially damaging and long-lasting consequences.
The detailed analyses revealed that girls, older children and in particular those in Northern European countries experience lower levels of life satisfaction. Findings also reveal that in the majority of countries, children from less affluent families had more health complaints.
And although the majority of adolescents reported excellent health, a marked increase in medication for headaches was shown across 12 out of 20 countries studied.