Britain's 15-year-olds are suffering due to pressure at school, feeling fat and drinking too much, according to a new report.
Teenage boys and girls in England, Scotland and Wales are less likely than the average child from 42 countries and regions to report a good life satisfaction and liking school, while some girls struggle to talk to their mothers, the new World Health Organisation (WHO) study found.
Girls also tended to report higher levels of regular drinking, while both sexes felt overweight.
The study of almost 220,000 young people in 42 countries and regions in Europe and North America found that, among 15-year-olds:
- 73% of girls and 52% of boys in England felt pressured by school work, significantly higher than the average of 51% of girls and 39% of boys across all countries. In Scotland, the figure was 80% of girls and 59% of boys, while in Wales it was 67% of girls and 52% of boys.
- 16% of girls in England and 22% of boys said they liked school a lot, less than the average of 24% for girls across all countries, and the same as the 22% for boys across all countries. In Scotland, the figure was 11% of girls and 14% of boys and in Wales it was 16% of girls and 15% of boys.
- 72% of girls and 81% of boys in England find it easy to talk to their mums compared to an average of 78% of girls and 80% of boys across all countries. In Scotland, the figure was 72% of girls and 74% of boys and 74% of girls and 83% of boys in Wales.
- 10% of girls and 12% of boys drink alcohol at least once a week, compared to an average of 9% for girls and 16% for boys in all countries. In Scotland, 11% of girls and 16% of boys drink at least once a week, while the figure is 12% of girls and 15% of boys in Wales.
- 31% of girls in England and 25% of boys have been drunk on two occasions or more, higher than the all country average of 20% for girls and 24% for boys. In Scotland, 33% of girls had been drunk on two occasions or more as had 32% of boys, while in Wales, 34% of girls had been drunk as had 28% of boys.
- 71% of girls and 84% of boys in England reported good life satisfaction, less than the average of 79% for girls and 87% for boys. In Scotland, the figure was 76% of girls and 88% of boys and in Wales it was 72% of girls and 84% of boys.
- 50% of girls and 25% of boys in England think they are too fat, higher than the 43% for girls and 22% for boys average. In Scotland, 55% of girls said they were too fat as did 27% of boys, while in Wales 52% of girls said the same as did 30% of boys.
The report also found that more young people from the least affluent households (lowest 20%) reported poorer results on a number of health indicators than those from the most affluent households (highest 20%), than in many other European countries.
These measures included daily fruit consumption, eating a daily breakfast, sedentary behaviour such as watching TV, and taking exercise.
Dr Joanna Inchley, deputy director of the Child and Adolescent Health Research Unit from the University of St Andrews, which led the study, said Scottish youngsters were doing well in some areas but there was still cause for concern.
She said: "Particularly concerning is the increase in school-related stress which may be contributing to poorer mental wellbeing especially among 15-year-old girls. It is essential that we look at ways of providing support to young people to help them navigate the challenges they face during adolescence."
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