Launch of the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Survey 2010

Apr 17 2012 Posted: 17:05 IST

Dr James Reilly TD, Minister for Health has launched the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Survey 2010. The HBSC is a cross-sectional study conducted in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe. The survey runs every four years and in 2010 there were 43 participating countries and regions. The 2010 Irish HBSC survey, carried out by the Health Promotion Research Centre at NUI Galway is the fourth round of data collection. The study aims to increase our understanding of young people’s health and well-being, health behaviours and their social context.


A total of 16,060 children aged 9-18 from 256 schools across Ireland participated in the survey. Overall, 67% of invited schools and 85% of invited children participated.


In welcoming the report, Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly stated: “While I am encouraged by the reduction in smoking, alcohol and drug use and a decrease in injuries among school going children, much remains to be done. I am, however, very concerned at the statistics around exercise and physical activity and the number of children who still remain hungry either going to school or going to bed at night. I will be in discussion with my colleague the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald in relation to further examination of this and actions requires to address same.”


Commenting on the findings, Dr Colette Kelly of the Health Promotion Research Centre, NUI Galway, said: “This report brings some good news about the health behaviours of children in Ireland with a decrease in smoking and alcohol use for example. Yet still more needs to be done to improve their health, in particular around nutrition and physical activity. Importantly, the majority of children in Ireland report to having high life satisfaction and being happy, a fundamental aspect of childhood, that we need to ensure continues.”


Food and Dietary Behaviour


Food consumption

Overall, 20% of children report that they consume fruit more than once a day (19% in 2006) and 20% report eating vegetables more than once a day (18% in 2006). The proportion of children who report eating sweets daily or more often (37% in 2010 vs. 39% in 2006), and who report soft drink consumption daily or more often (21% in 2010 vs. 26% in 2006) have decreased from 2006.


Food behaviours

Reports of never having breakfast on weekdays have not changed from 2006 (13% in 2010 vs. 14% in 2006). Children were asked to report how often they go to school or to bed hungry because there was not enough food at home. Overall, 21% of children report ever going to school or to bed hungry, an increase from 2006 (17%).


Exercise and physical activity

There has been little change in reported frequency of exercise, physical activity and inactivity in HBSC 2010. Overall 51% of children report exercising four or more times a week.


General Findings


General Health

The proportion of children who report excellent health (33%), feeling very happy (50%) and high life satisfaction (76%) remains stable from HBSC 2006.


Sexual Behaviour

Overall, 27% of 15-17 year olds report that they have ever had sex. Of those who report ever having had sex, 93% report using a condom the last time they had sex and 59% report that they had used the birth control pill.


Substance use

Overall, there is a decrease from 2006 in reports of tobacco, alcohol and cannabis use among school children in Ireland.



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