Adolescent health, an indicator of the nation’s future health, is declining as rates of obesity, depression, diabetes and other health problems increase in teenagers, according to a population health expert at The Australian National University.
In a paper published in the International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health, Mr Richard Eckersley argues that the weight of evidence shows youth health, especially mental health, is deteriorating despite traditional measures suggesting otherwise.
He says the historical measures of health outcomes – especially mortality rates and life expectancy – do not fully reflect the wider issues of chronic health problems and the impact of social, cultural and environmental changes on health.
“Adolescent health is a good indicator of our future health patterns because young people are at the cutting edge of the impact of social and cultural changes and how they affect our health. Many of the behaviours, attitudes and risk factors that determine adult health are established during childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. Most mental health problems begin during this time.
“What the evidence is showing us is that progress, as we pursue it, is not serving us as well as we thought,” Mr Eckersley said.
To combat this growing trend we need to focus on a preventative health approach which considers not just individual illnesses, but wider adverse social trends which are contributing to poor health outcomes for youth.
“The politics of health should be much more than the politics of healthcare services. Better health, not greater wealth, should be the defining goal of government. The two aims are not the same thing; in fact they may be increasingly at odds.”
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Sub-editorHealth :: Australian adolescent health in decline
by Sub-editor ( Author at Spirit India )
Posted on October 11th, 2007 at 8:35 pm.
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