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You’re never too young to look after your health - 16/04/2009

“Be healthy – be yourself” campaign encourages young people to become more proactive in protecting their health.

Health is rarely a top priority for young people. And yet some health problems – related to obesity, alcohol, tobacco and drugs – often start at an early age.

Lifestyle is established during childhood and youth. Adopting good habits at an early stage can lead to a healthier lifestyle in general and prevent chronic diseases later in life.

In recognition of this, the commission will launch a youth health initiative which encourages young people to tackle the issues affecting them and take part in activities to improve their health.

Participants can also share their experiences and opinions on health matters in a testimonial blog. Discussion topics include school sports, sex and nutritional education and local health issues. A blogger from Portugal speaks about the stress of finding a permanent job while another from the UK calls for a return to traditional sports at school.

A competition invites young people to create a drawing, poster, photograph or video on various themes ranging from obesity to avoiding unnecessary everyday risks.

The best bloggers and the winners of the competition will be invited to present their ideas at an EU conference on youth and health in Brussels on 9-10 July. Young people from across Europe will be there, along with youth representatives and health professionals.

Most health issues affecting the young are due to lifestyle or substance abuse. The European drugs monitoring centre estimates that 4% of all deaths among young people in the EU are caused by a drug overdose. In some countries this figure is closer to 10%.

Health is also affected by poverty, unequal access to healthcare and the conditions in which young people live, study and work. Younger workers are 50% more likely to have a serious accident at work their counterparts in the 40+ age bracket.

The EU is trying to address these issues. It has launched an anti-smoking campaign and has included measures to protect young people’s health in its education and safety at work policies.

More on the EU and young people’s health

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