Irish children drinking and smoking less than 20 years ago

Children also reported higher rates of life satisfaction

Irish children drinking and smoking less than 20 years ago

teenager drinking alcohol | Image: PA images

Irish children are drinking, smoking and using cannabis less than their counterparts 20 years ago, according to a new report. 

It seems that children are also more likely to try to lose weight than children 20 years ago.

A new report called the 'Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Ireland Trends Report 1998-2014' (HBSC) shows that 8% of Irish children aged 10-17 said they were smoking in 2014 compared to 23% in 1998.

The study was carried out by Professor Saoirse Nic Gabhainn and her team at the Health Promotion Research Centre in NUI Galway and analysed data on almost 5,000 students aged 10-17.

21% reported that they had been drunk before in 2014 compared to 33% in 1998.

8% also reported that they had used cannabis in the last year compared to 12% in 1998. 

Health behaviours 

The HBSC is a cross-sectional study which runs every four years and in 2014 there were 42 participating countries and regions collecting data on the health behaviours, health outcomes and contexts of children’s lives.

34% of children reported that their health was excellent compared to 28% in 1998. There was also high rates of life satisfaction with 76% and reported happiness at 89%.

Commenting on the report, Minister of State for Health Promotion, Marcella Corcoran-Kennedy said "We know that lifestyle patterns are established at an early age.

"We also know that chronic diseases, such as diabetes and cardiac disease, can develop as a result of lifestyle choices.

"Having detailed information about the lifestyle choices of our children is hugely significant for the choices we make as a country on the future direction of our national health policy."

Meanwhile, Professor Saoirse Nic Gabhainn from NUI Galway said "This report is the culmination of many years of work, and brings some good news about the health behaviours of children in Ireland over the years, with the sustained decrease in smoking and in alcohol use for example."