Promoting better health and wellbeing for young people

Government policies and programmes for improving the health and wellbeing of young people are being based on research carried out by the University of Hertfordshire.

Major international study

In 2008, the University’s Centre for Research in Public Health and Community Care joined the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study.

The four-yearly survey, which began in 1982, is the longest-running international study of the health behaviour of young people. It involves forty-three European and North American countries gathering cross-nationally comparable data.

The Centre was appointed for England for 2010, surveying 4,404 people aged eleven, thirteen and fifteen.

Moving the survey beyond simple monitoring, the Centre also examined the broader social context. The findings, therefore, offered policymakers and practitioners an understanding of exactly which social and development factors must be addressed in intervention and prevention programmes.

Influencing policies

Collaborating closely with the Departments of Health and Education, the findings helped shape several policies and actions, including:

  • the Positive for Youth policy, designed to counter negative perceptions of youth as a problem, to increase physical activity rates, and to protect children from substance misuse.
  • promoting healthy eating and positive weight strategies among girls.
  • more effective Personal and Social Health & Economic education policy.

The research has also contributed to the WHO’s international report, which is widely used by national and international policymakers, with key contributions from the Centre’s academics on family culture and sexual health.

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