In November 2008, a Resolution on the Health and Well-Being of Young People was adopted by the Council and highlighted the importance of promoting the health and well-being of young people in Europe. In July 2009, the Commission launched a Youth Health Initiative aiming primarily at involving young people in the decision making process about their health and at generating commitment from stakeholders to improve youth health. Health and Well-being of young people is also a field of action of the new EU Youth Strategy.
As many of the health problems young people will encounter as adults – problems such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, cancers and mental disorders – will have their genesis in the child and adolescent years, the transition from childhood to adulthood is a crucial period in which to address health determinants.
Among young people, health should be considered in its widest sense, in line with the WHO definition of health: "Health is not merely the absence of disease, but a state of complete physical, psychological, and social well-being". Thus, the EU concept of health in young people covers also physical capacity, psychological functioning, social relationships and environmental potentials (e.g. opportunities to acquire new information and skills, possibilities for leisure activities, the physical environment).
Youth is a key target in a number of EU health initiatives led by the Commission. For example, the Help campaign: "For a life without tobacco" targets primarily young people and young adults. Youth is also a target group in numerous actions on health promotion initiated by the EU key stakeholders of the EU Platform for action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health. Other issues are tackled such as Mental Health in Youth and Education, youth-specific aspects of alcohol, sexual health, and drugs.
Children and young people have a particularly high vulnerability as regards health issues related to the environment and consumption, and have therefore been given special attention in the European Environment and Health Strategy and the EU Consumer Policy Strategy.
Young people’s health in the work place is also a great concern of the European Commission, since young people suffer 50% more injuries at work than other categories of workers.