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EACEA National Policies Platform


7. Health and Well-Being

7.1 General context

Last update: 31 March 2021
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  1. Main trends in the health conditions of young people
  2. Main concepts

Main trends in the health conditions of young people


Report 2018about Drug uses in Secondary education in Spain (Ministry of Social Rights and 2030 Agenda)

This survey is conducted throughout the Spanish territories amongst secondary school students who between 14 and 18 years old: 35,369 students in total. It aims to study the situation and evolution of drug use, its age of onset and risks. The results, showed below, explain which drugs are more extended by measuring the percentage of consumption among school students.

  • Alcohol: Is the most consumed drug, with 76.9% of young people aged 14 to 18 claiming to have consumed alcohol at some point; 75.6% in the last year and 67% in the last month. Finally, alcohol is also the drug that is consumed earlier, as it scored with the lowest average (15.1 years) when asked about the first time the student consumed it. This trend of consumption is stable when compared to previous periods.
  • Tobacco: Is the second most extended drug, as 38.5% smoked tobacco at some point in their lives; 34.7% in the last year and 27.3% did it in the last 30 days of the year. When asked about the age when they first consumed tobacco, the average was 14.6 years old. In this case there shows a decrease in relation to previous years.
  • Cannabis: Is the ilegal drug more frequent, since 31.1% consumed cannabis at least once in life, 26.3% in the last year and 18.3% in the last month. The average age when used for the first time is 14.8 years, which has been the average on previous years as well. Overall, the resultsshow a decrease in consumption in relation to previous years.
  • Cocaine: 3.2% of the population aged 14 to 18 years has consumed cocaine; 2.5% in the last year and 1% in the last month. The average age of the first-time users is 15.1 years old. It shows a stabilization in the consumption after a downward trend indicated in 2004.

Study Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) Spain, 2018 (España, 2018):

World Health Organization (WHO), a quadrennial global study. It is carried out in Spain with the support and financing of the Ministry of Social Rights and 2030 Agenda. It gathers data of 40,495 young people between 11 and 18 years old, in 508 educational centers in Spain.

The following trends are detected in the study of the Spanish case:

  • Overweight and obesity: 17.5% of adolescents are overweight or obese. 16% of young Spaniards claim to be dieting or doing other behavior to control their weight.
  • Physical activity: Almost 20% of the teenagers surveyed conduct physical activities the 7 days of the week. There are differences between sexes boys tend to conduct physical activities the 7 days of the week more than girls, boys 25.8% and girls 14%.
  • Consumption of addictive substances: 10.8% of the adolescent population in school admits to consuming tobacco. 7.6% stated that they consume alcohol weekly, this percentage being much higher in advanced ages. Cannabis is the illegal drug that is consumed more often than others 15.3% of the boys and 10.1% of girls.
  • Injuries: About 55.3% of young Spaniards during the academic year (2018) have suffered at least one injury that has required medical assistance. The age range that has been injured most is males between 11 and 12 years old.

Suicide Data of the National Statistics Institute (INE):

According to the latest data produced by the (INE 2018), suicide is the second most common cause of death (after traffic accidents) in young males between 15 and 29 years old and the third (after tumors and traffic accidents) in women of the same age range. Although the number of suicides has decreased in the last two decades, they have increased by a 0.9% in 2018.

Overweight and obesity according to the Study of Diet, Physical Activity, Child Development and Obesity (ALADINO) (Estudio de Alimentación, Actividad física, Desarrollo INfantil y Obesidad (ALADINO)):

In this edition of the ALADINO Study (2019), have participated more than 16,650 children from the ages 6 to 9 from all the Spanish Autonomous Communities. The main trends of the study indicate that 40.6% of children between 6 and 9 years are overweight or obese. One of the main factors highlights the presence of different technological devices in the house, dedicating more than three hours a day to their use. It is also observed in the study that 9 out of ten parents think their kids´ weight is normal, which makes it difficult to solve this issue.

Youth Report in Spain 2016 (INJUVE) (Informe Juventud en España 2016 (INJUVE)):

In its 2016 edition, the report (informe) is based on a Youth Survey of 5,000 young people between the ages of 16 and 29 in Spain, in addition to the data from the European Health Interview Survey (EHIS) in Spain 2014 done by the INE. The report shows that:

  • Nutrition: 71% of young people are at a normal weight, with women being underweight  and men being overweight. One in 4 young people between the ages of 16 and 29 are overweight or obese. The trend shows that having a higher-than-normal weight among young people is more common among men than women.
  • Rest and physical form: 43% of young people sleep 8 hours a day, 33.7% around 7 hours, 14.1% less than 7 hours and 8.6% more than 8 hours. 52% of young people say they train physically several times a week, compared to 33% who do not exercise at all, or just occasionally. 43% of women do not do any sport at all or only occasionally, compared to 24% of males, females being more sedentary than males.
  • Sexual relations and education: 86% of respondents to sexual matters affirmatively answer the question of having had complete sexual intercourse (penetrative), 4% incomplete, and 9% have not had sex of any kind. In relation to the use of contraceptive methods or prophylaxis during sexual intercourse, 85% replied that they had used some method in their last complete sexual relationship, the condom being the most used: 81% for men and 65% for women.

Main concepts

The Ministry of Social Rights and 2030 Agenda has as a conceptual framework reference to the health promotion glossary developed by the WHO in its constitution in 1984, as well as its subsequent reviews at the international Conferences on Health Promotion in Ottawa (1986) and Jakarta (1997). It is from this glossary that the normative definitions of the Ministry of Health  emerge.

Health: "A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not only the absence of sickness or ailment (...) Health is a resource for everyday life, not the goal of life. It is a positive concept that emphasises social and personal resources as well as physical aptitudes. There are certain prerequisites for health, such as peace, access to economic resources, food, housing, stable ecosystem and sustainable use of resources. It is a fundamental human right.

Health Promotion (Promoción de la salud): It is the process that allows people to increase control over their health to improve it. It considers both actions aimed at increasing the skills and capacities of people, as well as those aimed at changing the social, environmental and economic conditions that have an impact on the health determinants.

Health-oriented behavior: Behaviors that are deliberately adopted in order to promote or protect health and are distinguished from the risky behaviors which are those behaviors associated with greater susceptibility to a specific cause of ill health.

Lifestyle: It is a way of life that is based on identifiable patterns of behavior, determined by the interaction between individual personal characteristics, social interactions and socio-economic and environmental conditions of life.

Living conditions: It is the everyday environment of people, where they live, coexist, work, study, etc. These conditions of life are the product of social and economic circumstances, and of the physical environment, all of which can exert an impact on health, being largely out of the immediate control of the individual.

Quality of life: it is the perception of the individual about their position in life within the cultural context and the system of values in which they live and with respect to their goals, expectations, norms and concerns. It is a concept that encompasses physical health, the psychological state, the level of independence, social relationships, personal beliefs, and the relationship with the outstanding characteristics of the environment.

Physical activity: (Actividad físicaPhysical activity is any voluntary movement performed by muscles, which produces an extra energy expenditure that our body needs to maintain vital functions (breathing, blood circulation, etc.). Walking, transporting an object, playing football, dancing, cleaning the house, etc., are considered some of the main physical activities. Physical activity that is beneficial to health is that which is of moderate intensity, done daily or almost every day and with a minimum duration of 30 minutes per session.

Sedentary lifestyle: The term sedentarism-from the Latin sedere, which means to sit down-describes different types of activities that develop in a waking state and require low levels of energy expenditure. These activities include sitting while commuting, in the workplace, in the domestic environment, and during leisure time.