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Prevention with success: alcohol and tobacco consumption among young people is falling sharply


Pleasing decrease in tobacco and alcohol consumption among adolescents

The consumption of alcohol and tobacco is associated with numerous health risks and the foundations for lifelong addiction are often laid in childhood and adolescence. Prevention measures have therefore been increasingly taken in recent years - apparently with success. According to a current analysis of the data from the long-term study KiGGS, adolescents in Germany today drink and smoke significantly less than ten years ago.

"Tobacco and alcohol consumption are among the leading avoidable risk factors for a large number of diseases with long-term effects, including premature mortality," reports the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). The current data analysis by the RKI shows that although 51 percent of 11 to 17 year olds have already tried alcohol, this is 13 percent less than ten years ago. The decline is even more pronounced with tobacco consumption: While ten years ago, 21.4 percent of adolescents smoked at least occasionally, in the current evaluation it was only around seven percent of 11 to 17 year olds (3.7 percent smoke daily).

12 percent of adolescents with risky alcohol consumption

"As the course for health behavior in later life is set in the youth phase and it is known that an early start promotes later regular consumption of alcohol and tobacco for adolescents, it is a health policy goal that adolescents do not smoke as much as possible and become responsible and low-risk use of alcohol are enabled, ”said the RKI. In particular, the regular or risky alcohol consumption, which continues to be practiced by 12 percent of adolescents, and the regular binge drinking, of which seven percent of the respondents reported, should be assessed extremely critically.

Binge drinking is more common among boys

According to the RKI, there are also differences between the behavior of girls and boys when it comes to risky alcohol consumption and intoxication. For example, girls consume more alcoholic beverages at risky levels, but more boys than girls practice intoxication. Overall, however, the development in the past ten years has been quite positive. The decline in tobacco and alcohol consumption indicates the success of the preventive measures, according to the RKI.

Income situation with a significant impact on children's health

The data analysis of the long-term study KIGSS also showed that children and adolescents with low socio-economic status are often worse off in terms of health. They are more likely to eat unhealthy foods (compared to their peers from socially disadvantaged families), exercise less frequently and are more likely to be overweight or obese, reports the RKI.

Too little sport and exercise

The sporting behavior of adolescents remains room for improvement overall. Only 54 percent of girls do sports for at least 90 minutes a week. It is 63 percent of the boys, but there is still room for improvement. Only 31 percent of girls and 45 percent of boys achieve 180 minutes of sport a week.

Nutritional behavior can still be improved

In terms of nutrition, there was a pleasing decline in the consumption of sweets and sugary drinks compared to the KiGGS baseline survey ten years ago, but on the other hand, 11- to 17-year-olds in particular today eat significantly fewer vegetables, according to the RKI. There is still a need for action in terms of both eating habits and physical activity, with the RKI particularly reminding of the role model function of the parents. (fp)

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