Prevention of bad lifestyle habits should be tackled even before 13 years

December 30, 2010

Bad eating habits, ingestion of alcohol, sedentary lifestyles - all unhealthy life habits that are already being detected in early adolescence and that are especially predominant amongst women and young people between the ages of 19 and 26. The prevention campaigns should take very much into consideration these groups at risk and even take into account those less than 13 years. These are some of the conclusions that can be drawn from the PhD thesis presented at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) by researcher Marta Arrue, with the title, Lifestyle habits and psychological factors in adolescence and youth in the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country (CAV-EAE).

Ms Arrue studied 2,018 young people from the CAV-EAE who were asked to fill in various questionnaires. With the gathered data, she collated and analysed habits of life according to sex and age (adolescents from 13 to 17; young persons from 18 to 26).

16 years, crucial

The data point to the fact that young persons show more risk behaviour than expected, more even than they themselves perceive, believing that they are healthier than they really are. The least healthy habits turn out to be eating ones, followed by ingestion of alcohol, sedentarism, risks involving sexual relations, the consumption of tobacco and drugs and, finally, low quality or insufficient sleep.

By age, it is notable that risk behaviour presents itself in early adolescence and that all the habits, except sleep, worsen with the passing of the years. Ms Arrue concluded that special attention has to be paid to adolescents of 16 years: this is the point of no return, as it were; the age in which either healthy activities are opted for or risk behaviour patterns arise. With respect to gender, women show greater risk conduct than men. The weak point of women is sedentarism, tobacco, sleep, risk of becoming pregnant and sexually transmitted diseases. Men, on the other hand, show weaknesses with alcohol, illegal drugs and eating.

Ms Arrue also concluded that risk factors tend to be associated in a simultaneous manner, although healthy behaviour also. There is a correlation, for example, between physical activity or lack thereof with the consumption or otherwise of alcohol and tobacco. This means that the importance of a single risk habit by itself should not be minimised, as it can carry others along with it. But, at the same time, it also facilitates prevention campaigns, given that encouraging single healthy lifestyle habit can bring other good behaviour in its train.

Psychological factors

This thesis not only described habits of life, but also undertook a co-relational analysis between these and the psychological state of the persons studied, this being one of the main contributions of the PhD. The results show that adolescents and young people with healthy life habits have higher self-esteem, better psychological wellbeing, greater satisfaction with their bodies and fewer psychopathological indicators. Ms Arrue stated that there is a loop feedback effect between habits and psychological condition: good habits benefit psychological health; optimum psychological conditions facilitating having a healthy life.

Precisely, given positive correlations such as these, the researcher highlights the importance of taking into account the multiple variables surrounding the lifestyle habit when launching awareness/prevention campaigns. Apart from the psychological factor, she suggests that cultural and economic factors should be considered, as well as legal (the scant protection afforded to minors as regards alcohol and tobacco). Ms Arrue reminds us that tendency to bad habits is not due to lack of information, as has been borne out by the numerous campaigns undertaken, and so other factors must be involved.

Thus, the fight against bad lifestyle habits requires a multifactorial and pluridisciplinary approach, and behoves us to detect the problem as early as possible, especially taking into account the groups at risk (women and young people).
-end-
About the author

Ms Marta Arrue Mauleon (San Sebastián, 1971) is a graduate in Contemporary History and qualified in Nursing. She drew up her PhD thesis under the direction of Ms Carmen Maganto Mateo and Ms Maite Garaigordobil Landazabal, professors respectively at the Department of Personality and Evaluation and of Psychological Treatment at the Psychology Faculty of the UPV/EHU. In order to undertake her thesis, the researcher studied samples from various schools in the three provinces of the CAV-EAE (Álava-Araba, Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa), as well as from the UPV/EHU and the University of Deusto. Currently Ms Arrue is lecturer at the School of Nursing in the Leioa campus of the UPV/EHU.

Elhuyar Fundazioa

Related Alcohol Articles from Brightsurf:

Alcohol use changed right after COVID-19 lockdown
One in four adults reported a change in alcohol use almost immediately after stay-at-home orders were issued: 14% reported drinking more alcohol and reported higher levels of stress and anxiety than those who did not drink and those whose use stayed the same.

Changes in hospitalizations for alcohol use disorder in US
Changes over nearly two decades in the rate of hospitalizations and in-hospital deaths from alcohol use disorder in the US were examined in this study.

Associations of alcohol consumption, alcohol-induced passing out with risk of dementia
The risk of future dementia associated with overall alcohol consumption and alcohol-induced loss of consciousness in a population of current drinkers was examined in this observational study with more than 131,000 adults.

New alcohol genes uncovered
Do you have what is known as problematic alcohol use?

Does estrogen influence alcohol use disorder?
A new study from researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago shows that high estrogen levels may make alcohol more rewarding to female mice.

Sobering new data on drinking and driving: 15% of US alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities involve alcohol under the legal limit
A new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, published by Elsevier, found that motor vehicle crashes involving drivers with blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) below the legal limit of 0.08 percent accounted for 15% of alcohol-involved crash deaths in the United States.

Alcohol-induced deaths in US
National vital statistics data from 2000 to 2016 were used to examine how rates of alcohol-induced deaths (defined as those deaths due to alcohol consumption that could be avoided if alcohol weren't involved) have changed in the US and to compare the results by demographic groups including sex, race/ethnicity, age, socioeconomic status and geographic location.

Cuts in alcohol duty linked to 2000 more alcohol-related deaths in England
Government cuts to alcohol taxes have had dramatic consequences for public health, including nearly 2000 more alcohol-related deaths in England since 2012, according to new research from the University of Sheffield's School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR).

Integrated stepped alcohol treatment for people in HIV care improves both HIV & alcohol outcomes
Increasing the intensity of treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD) over time improves alcohol-related outcomes among people with HIV, according to new clinical research supported by the National Institutes of Health.

The Lancet:Targets to reduce harmful alcohol use are likely to be missed as global alcohol intake increases
Increasing rates of alcohol use suggest that the world is not on track to achieve targets against harmful alcohol use, according to a study of 189 countries' alcohol intake between 1990-2017 and estimated intake up to 2030, published in The Lancet.

Read More: Alcohol News and Alcohol Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.