Swiss adolescents have a healthy lifestyle

Young people enjoy a form of exercise unknown to most adults Keystone

Swiss adolescents are more satisfied with life and generally healthier than their contemporaries in the rest of Europe and North America, a report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday shows.

This content was published on May 2, 2012 minutes and agencies

The study spoke to young people aged 11, 13 and 15 in 39 countries and regions in Europe and North America about their health practices.

The Swiss turned out to have the least problem with their weight: only five per cent of 11-year-olds were overweight, compared with 30 per cent in the United States and 20 per cent in Portugal.

They also came out well as far as their healthy habits were concerned: most of them clean their teeth several times a day and eat fruit regularly. On the other hand, they did not practise as much sport as most of their peers: only 11 per cent of girls and 20 per cent of boys said they take enough exercise to make them sweat for an hour every day.

As for their leisure time, they watch less television than their peers anywhere else in Europe: only about a quarter of them spend more than two hours a day in front of it. But they also spend less time meeting their friends in the evening than most of their contemporaries.

The study found that while they liked their schoolmates – over 80 per cent described them as helpful – only a third of the Swiss children actually liked school.

Unequal situation

The report points out that there is a connection between the affluence of families and the healthier lifestyle of their children. Children of better-off parents ate more fruit and breakfast and did more sport. They communicated with their parents better and had more close friends.

“This report shows us that the situation across Europe is not fair: health depends on age, gender, geography and family affluence,” says Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO regional director for Europe, in a comment on the WHO website.

“This report gives policy-makers an opportunity to act to secure the health of the next generation,” she added.

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