Thursday, 19 June 2014
Celebrating a real live current public health success. Students are making healthier choices.
Either students are learning what questions to not answer on health surveys, or one of the great public health successes of the century is working its way through our schools.
Yes, many in public health felt that focusing attention on those already engaging in less healthy behaviours was resource intensive and lacked efficacy, so the focus has shifted to raising a healthier generation.
Those efforts are beginning to pay off. A report of the US CDC showing that tobacco smoking in the US is at its lowest level in the past quarter century. The smoking rates are just one of the gems in the youth behavioural risk surveillance system of the US. Other good news is that obesity trends are flattening, sexual activity is decreasing, school violence is down almost a half, and often drug use is decreasing.
There are a plethora of Canadian resources that further confirm this healthier trend. CPHO 2011 report though lacking in key long term trend data.
BC uses the McCreary study and are repeated every five years and have better trend data with indications that tobacco, drugs and alcohol are all decreasing, along with healthier sexual activity. Information on bullying is not as robust
Alberta TAYES studies went through a few iterations http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/2382.asp before being swept into the Alberta Health Services and also showed some wave over wave improvement at least from 2005-2008
Saskatchewan has been discussing a youth survey for several years
Manitoba undertook surveys in 2009 with data released and 2012 (pending) undertaken by Partners in Planning for Healthy Living
Numerous health units in Ontario have undertaken local youth behavior surveillance surveys
Quebec did a survey back in 1999 and no more recent surveys were noted thought some regions may have undertaken local surveys.
Atlantic provinces have collaborated on a survey every five years, most recently in 2012 and province specific information can be accessed at New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, (PEI did not participate in the most recent wave). The surveys also show general positive health trends.
For the data geeks out there, there is so much data on student health that can be mined and represented. Here is merely a taste that students are getting healthier and public health should be celebrating one of its great success of the century – well done colleagues.