Teenagers ‘less healthy than their parents’ generation’

NZ Herald 28 Mar 07
The opportunity to intervene and stop adolescents from risky behaviour such as taking drugs is often missed, say health specialists. Today’s adolescents are the first generation to have grown up less healthy than their parents, doctors said yesterday. Alcohol, tobacco, drugs, obesity and sexually transmitted diseases have replaced childhood infections of the past such as tuberculosis and polio and are exacting a greater toll. The difference is that the modern threats to teenager’s health are preventable.Between 1970 and 2000, obesity in adolescents has increased fourfold, sexually transmitted diseases have increased threefold, drinking has increased, smoking rates are unchanged since 1982, and suicide is slightly up, figures show. The trends are highlighted in a series of papers on adolescent health published as a special supplement by the Lancet which the journal says is an area of medicine that remains “neglected, marginalised or ignored in many countries”.