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EACEA National Policies Platform: Youthwiki
Denmark

Denmark

7. Health and Well-Being

7.1 General context

On this page
  1. Main trends in the health conditions of young people
  2. Main concepts

Main trends in the health conditions of young people

In Denmark, the health condition of the Danish population is thoroughly monitored and analysed. There are several regular health surveys:

The National Health Profile is published every four years (2010, 2013, and 2017), and the results from the most recent survey are expected to be published in 2021. The National health Profile provides an overview of health, morbidity and well-being in the adult population (16-75<). 

Denmark also participates in the international survey Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children (HBSC). Since 1984, the survey has been conducted every four years among 11–15-year-olds. The most recent survey is the 2018 Health Behaviours in School-Aged Children, published in April 2019. The survey concludes that the majority of the 11–15-year-old school children are doing well, thrive mentally and socially, and many young people in the survey have a reasonable health behaviour. The survey also concludes that physical and mental symptoms, loneliness, or lack confidential relations with friends and family plague too many children. Still too many children drink alcohol, smoke, are not physically active enough compared to the Danish physical activity recommendations, and sit still with electronic devices.

A positive decline in use of alcohol and tobacco in recent years has changed and the 2018 HBCS survey documents a stagnation among 15-year-olds.

There are large differences in the health behaviour among boys and girls:

More girls than boys experience health issues and fail to thrive: More girls than boys are feeling sad, are nervous, and experience sleep issues. Many of the girls feel overweight and have a low self-esteem. Furthermore, more girls are active on social media for more than four hours a day and show signs of addiction to social media

More boys than girls eat unhealthily, have tried marihuana, drink alcohol, and spend more than four hours a day on computer games, but the boys are more physically active than girls.

The report ‘UNG19’ was published in 2019 and covers topics within the area of health, health behaviour and well-being among Danish students on upper secondary education programmes. The report is based on a survey of 29 122 students aged 15-30 years.

With regard to substance abuse, Denmark also participates in the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD). The survey was initiated in 1995 and has been conducted every four years since then. The target group of the survey is 9th grade students. In addition, the Danish Health Authority published a report in 2020 about the prevalence of illegal drug use in the Danish population and youth.

The smoking habits among Danes have been monitored in the report series ‘Danskernes rygevaner’ by the Danish Health Authority. The most recent report was published in 2020 and presents the data from 2019.

 The following tables are from:

 
Mental health

Young people’s mental health and social well-being has been a subject of concern among health practitioners and politicians in recent years, because the number of young people with mental health problems is rising. The term mental health refers to people’s ability to handle everyday life and to use/realise one’s full potential.

 
The National Health Profile

The percentage of individuals experiencing poor mental health is greater among women than men in the Danish population in general. However, the percentage is particularly larger among 16-24-year-old women.

Data from the National Health Profile (2017) are presented in the following:

Self-estimated poor mental health
 16-24-year-olds16-24-year-olds25-34-year-olds25-34-year-olds
 MenWomenMenWomen
20108,3%15,8%9,3%14,3%
20138,2%17,5%10,4%14,6%
201712,9%23,8%13,9%19,5%

 

 

Feeling stressed

 

16–24-year-olds

25–34-year-olds

 

Men

Women

Men

Women

2010

11.3%

21.3%

11.7%

18.6%

2013

15.6%

33%

18.8%

26.3%

2017

23.4%

40.5%

24.6%

34%

 

Felt unhappy/depressed within the last two weeks

 

16–24-year-olds

25–34-year-olds

 

Men

Women

Men

Women

2010

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

2013

4.9%

9.9%

5.6%

7.9%

2017

7.5%

14.1%

7.6%

8.6%

 

 

Sleep issues within the last two weeks

 

16–24-year-olds

 

25–34-year-olds

 

 

Men

Women

Men

Women

2010

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

2013

8.2%

13.6%

7.2%

11.0%

2017

11.9%

17.8%

10.7%

14.1%

 

 

Feeling of anxiety, unease, and nervousness within the last two weeks

 

16–24-year-olds

 

25–34-year-olds

 

 

Men

Women

Men

Women

2010

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

2013

3.0%

6.8%

4.3%

6.4%

2017

6.1%

12.8%

6.5%

9.3%

 

Spending time alone involuntarily
 16-24-year-olds16-24-year-olds25-34-year-olds25-34-year-olds
 MenWomanMenWomen
20106,6%7,9%5,1%5,7%
20137%9,2%6,1%6%
20178,5%10,3%7,4%

7,6%

Source: 2017 National Health Profile

 

HBSC survey 2018

Data from the 2018 HBSC survey regarding mental health are presented below:

Feeling lonely

From 1988 and up until 2018, the percentage of boys feeling lonely has remained stable. Among 13- and 15-year-old girls, the percentage increased up until 2014, from where the level has remained stable until 2018.

Percentage of boys and girls often or very often feeling lonely

 

Boys

Girls

11-year-olds

2%

6%

13-year-olds

3%

10%

15-year-olds

5%

10%

 

 
High life satisfaction

While there has been a slightly fluctuating incidence of high life satisfaction of about 40-45% in the 11-year-old students and about 30% in the 13-year-old students, the proportion of 15-year-old students who report having a high life satisfaction has declined sharply from 2002 to 2014. The figures from 2018 show that the development has stagnated in both 15-year-old boys and girls.

Percentage of boys and girls with high life satisfaction

 

Boys

Girls

11-year-olds

42 %

39 %

13-year-olds

32 %

26 %

15-year-olds

27 %

20 %

 

Self-esteem

Percentage of boys and girls with good self esteem

 

Boys

Girls

11-year-olds

74%

65%

13-year-olds

72%

49%

15-year-olds

71%

49%

 

 

Self-efficacy

Percentage of boys and girls with high self-efficacy

 

Boys

Girls

11-year-olds

70 %

70 %

13-year-olds

80 %

69 %

15-year-olds

81 %

72 %

Source: 2018 HBSC survey

 

 
Substance abuse
 
Tobacco

According to the report, 'Danskernes rygevaner 2019' (Danes' smoking habits 2019), a higher percentage of the 15-29-year-olds either smoke, use smokeless tobacco or e-cigarettes compared to the other age groups.

 

15–29-year-olds

Smoke tobacco on a daily basis

 13%

Smoke occasionally

 13 %

Former smokers

 12%

Have never tried tobacco

 62 %

 

 

According to the 2018 HBSC survey, the proportion of 11-15-year-olds who smoke every day, every week or less often has decreased overall since the survey was first initiated in 1984. However, the development has stagnated between 2014 to 2018.

Percentage of boys and girls who smoke on a daily basis

 

Boys

Girls

11-year-olds

2 %

2 %

13-year-olds

2 %

2 %

15-year-olds

5 %

4 %

 

 

Percentage of boys and girls who have ever tried smoking

 

Boys

Girls

11-year-olds

3 %

1 %

13-year-olds

9 %

6 %

15-year-olds

31 %

26 %

Source: 2018 HBSC survey

Percentage of boys and girls who have ever tried smoking e-cigarettes

 

Boys

Girls

11-year-olds

2 %

1 %

13-year-olds

11 %

5 %

15-year-olds

30 %

17 %

Source: 2018 HBSC survey

 

 

Drugs

According to the results from UNG19, more boys than girls in upper secondary educations have experience of cannabis, marihuana, pot or skunk. In total, 37% of the students have experience of cannabis, marihuana, pot or skunk.

Percentage with experience of cannabis, marihuana, pot or skunk among students on upper secondary educations

Boys

47%

Girls

29%

 

 

In the HBSC survey, only the 15-year-olds are asked about their experience with marihuana. In this age group, more boys than girls have also tried marihuana. From 2014 to 2018, the number of 15-year-old boys and girls who have tried marihuana has decreased.

Percentage of 15-year-olds who have ever tried marihuana

Boys

16%

Girls

5%

According to the 2019 ESPAD survey, the percentage of 9th grade students who have tried marihuana decreased between 1999 to 2015. In the period from 2015 to 2019, the percentage increased from 12.4% to 17.0%.

Percentage of 9th grade students who have tried marihuana (both genders)

1995

17.3%

1999

24.0%

2003

22.6%

2011

18.0%

2015

12.4%

2019

17.0%

In a report from 2020, the Danish Health Authority outlined the prevalence of use of other illegal drugs than marihuana among the Danish youth. The percentage of people under 25 years who report currently using illegal drugs has increased from 4% in 2013 to 6% in 2017.

The percentage of 16-24-year-olds who have used other illegal drugs than marihuana within the last month, last year or ever

                 1994

2000

2005

2008

2010

2013

2017

Last          0%

month

3.0%

2.0%

2.3%

1.7%

1.6%

2.8%

Last year

0.7%

8.0%

5.3%

8.0%

4.3%

3.9%

6.3%

Ever

3.0%

14.5%

14.2%

15.2%

10.6%

9.1%

10.6%

Source: Udbredelse af illegale stoffer i befolkningen og blandt de unge - Narkotikasituationen i Danmark2020 - delrapport 1

 

Alcohol

According to the 2017 National Health Profile, alcohol has a great influence on public health in Denmark. Measured by binge drinking, drunkenness and the percentage of alcohol consumed, the Danish youth have the highest consumption of alcohol compared to young people in other European countries according to the Danish Health Authority.

In the 2017 National Health Profile, respondents were asked if they had consumed alcohol within the last 12 months. Respondents with a positive reply were asked to indicate how many units of alcohol per week.

Have not consumed alcohol within the last 12 months

16–24-year-olds

25–34-year-olds

 

Men

Women

Men

Women

 

10.2%

12.1%

9.4%

17.2%

Source: 2017 National Health Profile 

 

Units of alcohol per week

16–24-year-olds

25–34-year-olds

 

Men

Women

Men

Women

0

16.7

18

13.4

18.8

1–7

31.6

39

47

51.3

8–14

18.3

19.4

16.3

9.7

15–21

11.7

6.6

7.9

2.0

22–29

5.3

2.6

2.9

0.6

≥30

6.2

2.3

3.1

0.4

Source: 2017 National Health Profile 

The 2017 National Health Profile highlights that 6.9% of the adult population exceeds the Danish Health Authority’s high-risk limit in relation to alcohol intake during a typical week. The proportion is higher among men (8.6%) than among women (5.2%). The largest proportions are seen among men and women in the age group 16-24 years as well as among men in the age groups 55-64 years and 65-74 years. Thus, the youngest age group in the survey are among those who are most likely to exceed the recommendations from the Danish Health Authority.

According to the 2018 HBSC survey results, the percentage of 11-15-year-olds who have tried drinking alcohol decreased from the late 1990s to 2014. However, from 2014 to 2018 the development has stagnated among 11-13-year-olds, while the percentage has increased among the 15-year-olds. Likewise, the percentage of 15-year-olds who drink at least once a week has increased between 2014 and 2018.

Percentage of boys and girls who have ever tried drinking alcohol

 

Boys

Girls

11-year-olds

20%

7%

13-year-olds

39%

34%

15-year-olds

84%

82%

Source: 2017 National Health Profile

 

Physical activity

According to the 2017 National Health Profile, 28.8% of the adult population do not live up to the WHO’s recommendations for physical activity as a minimum (30 minutes a day).

Percentage that do not live up to the WHO’s recommendations

Men

16–24-year-olds

18.2%

 

25–34-year-olds

24.54%

Women

16–24-year-olds

19.7%

 

25–34-year-olds

28.4%

According to the 2018 HBSC survey, boys have in general been more physically active than girls in the period from 1988 to 2018. Recent numbers indicate an increase in physical activity among 15-year-old boys and girls, whereas the 11- and 13-year-olds are less physically active in both gender groups.

 

Percentage who engage in at least 7 hours of strenuous physical activity per week in their free time

 BoysGirls
11-year-olds12%8%
13-year-olds19%15%
15-year-olds32%

20%

 

 
Diet

The 2017 National Health Profile indicates that the diet became unhealthier between 2010 and 2017, with a low intake of vegetables, fruit, and fish, and a high intake of food with high content of saturated fat. An unhealthy diet is most common in the 16–24-year age group, and more common among men than among women.

Dietary habits among men and women

 Men Women 
 16-24-year-olds25-34-year-olds16-24-year-olds25-34-year-olds
Unhealthy diet22.5 %17.8%15.9%11.4%
Diet with healthy and unhealthy habits64.0%68.2%68.0%70.6%
Healthy diet13.6%14.0%16.1%18.0%

According to the 2018 HBSC survey, Danish 11-15-year-olds in general do not comply with the recommendations with regard to food intake of vegetables and fruit. Since 2010, the percentage of 11-15-year-olds eating fruit on a daily basis has been decreasing, especially among girls. The survey results also indicate an increase in boys eating vegetables on a daily basis between 2002 and 2018.

Proportion of boys and girls eating vegetables/fruit on a daily basis (2018 HBSC survey)

 BoysGirls
11-years-olds57%57%
13-years-olds51%54%
15-years-olds47%59%

Between 2006 and 2014, the percentage of 11-15-years-olds eating candy or chocolate on a daily basis decreased. From 2014 to 2018, the development stagnated.

Proportion of boys and girls eating candy or chocolate on a daily basis (2018 HBSC survey)

 BoysGirls
11-years-olds7%5%
13-years-olds7%6%
15-years-olds7%6%

Overall, the percentage of 11-15-year-olds drinking soft drinks on a daily basis has decreased between 2002 and 2014, although the different age groups have had various developments. From 2014 to 2018, the development stagnated.

Proportion of boys and girls drinking soda on a daily basis

 BoysGirls
11-years-olds7%5%
13-years-olds9%4%
15-years-olds10%5%

Source: 2018 HBSC Survey

 

Obesity

According to the 2017 National Health Profile, the number of Danes with moderate overweight and obesity has been slightly increasing since 2010.

Moderate overweight and obesity (BMI > 25)

Men

16–24-year-olds

27.7%

 

25–34-year-olds

48.3%

Women

16–24-year-olds

24.0%

 

25–34-year-olds

37.4%

According to the 2018 HBSC survey, the prevalence of overweight and obesity among children and youths has increased in Europe since the 1970s, but the level has stagnated since 2000. However, the proportion of children and youths being overweight or obese is still too high. In Denmark, the most recent data from 2018 indicates that the prevalence of overweight and obesity among especially 15-year-old boys has increased markedly from 11% in 2014 to 18% in 2018.

Overweight or obese                                   

 

Boys

Girls

11-year-olds

11 %

9 %

13-year-olds

8 %

11 %

15-year-olds

18 %

13 %

Main concepts

There are no main concepts regarding young people’s health.