Press Release

Minister Gallagher launches Irish results of health behaviour in school-aged children study 2006 (HSBC 2006)

Mr Pat the Cope Gallagher T.D., Minister for Health Promotion and Food Safety, today (22 August 2007) launched the Irish results of the Health Behaviour in School–aged Children Survey, 2006 (HBSC 2006). HBSC is a European collaborative study which measures a number of health and lifestyle factors among 10-18 year old children across Europe.

The Minister was pleased to note that the HBSC Report 2006 shows a continuing decrease in smoking among young people as well as a sharp increase in the number of children who report that they always use a seat-belt when travelling in a car. Irish children are reporting high rates of self-reported health and happiness, and these have increased since 2002. There is a reported increase in the number of children who never had an alcoholic drink. However, there continues to be worrying findings with regard to children in the 15-17 year old category and with regard to their use of alcohol. The HBSC Study shows that half of children aged 15-17 years old report they have consumed alcohol in the preceding month.

Speaking at the launch of the results Minister Gallagher said “I am delighted to be associated with the launch of such important data which will be used to inform the development and implementation of future health promotion policies. Although today’s report contains a number of positive findings in respect to the behaviours of our children, we must not become complacent and we must continue to work towards improving the health of our children and young people. The findings with regard to the use of alcohol by our 15-17 year olds continues to be a cause for concern. I intend to examine what measures are required to try to address this continuing problem in our society.”

This year, for the first time, at the request of the Office of the Minister for Children, data was also collected from children in middle childhood i.e. 9 year old children in 3rd and 4th class. It is recognised both nationally and internationally that there is a deficit of information on this age group. The results of the study of this age group are published alongside the HBSC data in the report. “We hope that the inclusion of data in the HBSC Study will help to address the deficit of information on this age group” the Minister said.

Background

The HBSC is a World Health Organisation (WHO) European collaborative study with over 40 participating countries and regions. This is the third time that Ireland has participated in the study, which is carried out every four years. While the results from the other European countries will not be available until mid-2008, the Department of Health and Children has now published the results of the Irish portion of the survey.

The HBSC Study 2006 was undertaken on behalf of the Department of Health and Children by the Health Promotion Research Centre, National University of Ireland, Galway. Over 330 schools participated with some 13,700 pupils completing questionnaires.

The full HBSC Study 2006 is available on the Department of Health and Children’s website here