In a recent report the British Medical Association warns that the obesity, binge drinking, and promiscuity of many of today’s British teenagers is a public health time bomb.
It is odd that in a time of improving health for people in general, health statistics show that the health of the younger generation is worsening.
British adolescents drink a lot more than the average European teenagers. In a recent survey some under 16s admitted drinking an average of ten units of alcohol a week which equals five pints of beer or ten normal glasses of wine. The majority of 16 – 24 year-olds also state that they have had sex without using condoms and thus the rates of sexually transmitted diseases are soaring. To top it off, one in four 15 year-olds are regular smokers, and cannabis has been tried by one in three.
In addition to health problems, the less than moderate lifestyle followed by many adolescents, leads to mental problems, which is another area showing an alarming increase.
Drinking and drug abuse is not only a problem within Britain's borders. British teenagers create problems all over the Mediterranean, where their screaming and indecent behavior replace the relaxed charm of Mediterranean villages. The more lucrative family-based tourism is quickly replaced by endless rows of nightclubs offering cheap liquor. Party teens deliver the final death blow to tourist sites which are trying to uphold a certain local culture and charm. There is a monotonous thunder of binge drinking and brawl 24/7. Even as the morning sun rises, you can still hear the party-teens screaming and shouting - in many cases with a British accent.
So far the government has proposed no real incentives to tackle the emerging health crisis among young people. One of the measures suggested is to ban snack food advertising to children. A free school fruit initiative is in place, but it is less than likely to have a measurable effect on adolescent health as a whole. The same applies to various governmental strategies addressing sexual health and teenage pregnancy. It remains to be seen whether the British government, parents or young British adolescents themselves will take effective action. If nothing is done we may see a decrease in life expectancy and a soaring number of teens struggling with diabetes, infertility, and obesity.
What is called for is more moderate drinking, less irresponsible sexual behavior as well as more physical activity and a healthier diet. In that way, adolescents would be more likely to stay mentally fit and get more out of life for a longer period of time.
Watch the first few minutes of the British Medical Association's Press Conference:
Tasks and Activities
- How does the health of young people today differ from the health of people in general?
- What other adolescent problems are increasing?
- Why are tourist areas in the Mediterranean fed up with British teens?
- Has the British government done anything to deal with teens' problems?
- If things do not improve, what consequences could this have for teens?
- How does this behaviour compare to Norwegian teens?
- What can be done about teenage behaviour as described in this text?
- What can the teens do?
- What can parents do?
- What can society do?
- What can the government do?
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