Study: Obesity, smoking and drug abuse on the rise among Czech adolescents

Photo: European Commission

Czech researchers from the University of Olomouc made a significant contribution to the latest Health Behavior of School-Aged Children Research Study. Sadly, its conclusions point to a worrying trend: Czech adolescents, and their counterparts across Europe, are living an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. As a result, obesity, drug abuse and smoking among those aged 18 and under are on the rise. We spoke to one of the Czech researchers involved in the international study, Michal Kalman.

Photo: European Commission
“The main aim of the Health Behavior of School-Aged Children Research Study is to increase the understanding of young people’s health and well-being and health behavior in their social context. So it focuses on physical activity, obesity, risky behavior and other factors that affect whether someone is leading an active lifestyle”

What were the main findings of the study regarding the health behavior of Czech school-aged children?

“The main findings were that there is a significant decrease in the level of physical activity. We can also say that the level of sedentary behavior is increasing, and that is associated with smoking, drinking, alcohol consumption, anxiety and depression.”

And what are the reasons for this worrying trend, what has changed in our lifestyle in the past years or decades?

“We are less active and eating more and more unhealthy foods. We also spend more time sitting in front of computers, chatting with friends online, using social media, and that causes obesity, here in the Czech Republic, but also across Europe and internationally. This is why we got in touch with the authors of the international HBSC study, to find out why the level of physical activity is decreasing, and why girls are more affected by this than boys. And why we can clearly see that the level of obesity in the Czech Republic is really increasing quite rapidly and becoming a serious issue.”

How did the Czech Republic fare in comparison to other European countries?

“More or less, we are average in most areas. If I look at the map of physical activity in Europe, we are doing average. But if I look at Czech results from previous years, our performance was much better, and so that is another big problem, that the lifestyle of Czech adolescents is getting much worse quite rapidly.”