Glasgow teenagers are showing their elders that they know best when it comes to a healthy lifestyle. Although cancer statistics in Scotland are traditionally high, youngsters appear to have heeded health warnings according to a Cancer Research UK survey1.
It revealed that among 13-16 year olds hardly any boys admitted to smoking and 80 per cent of the girls ate vegetables regularly. Well over half the 10-16 year-olds surveyed said they worried about their health and an astonishing 80 per cent said they would change their habits to reduce the risk of illness in the future.
While the boys shunned tobacco , 25 per cent of 13-16 year old girls admitted to smoking. But girls beat the boys at healthy eating with 80 per cent of them regularly eating vegetables as against just 50 per cent of the boys.
The bad news, though, is that two thirds of the teenagers surveyed failed to protect their skin in the sun.
The children answered questions on science, health and lifestyle habits at Tomorrow’s World roadshow in the city centre where they were entertained by a travelling pop band, created by Cancer Research UK.
The all-singing, all-dancing band performed a music spectacular designed to inform teenagers about science and cancer.
The band has been performing with the help of an interactive space capsule and science information robot to help put across the charity’s message: to overcome cancer through education, fundraising, recruitment, lifestyle and research.
By stimulating children’s interest in science the charity is hoping that more youngsters will be inspired to take up a career working in the fight against cancer.
The survey found that almost two thirds of 10-16 year olds in Glasgow said they were excited by science. And although nearly half the boys, aged 10-12 wanted to be sportsmen, nearly half the teenage boys wanted to be computer experts. But more than a third of the girls between the ages of 10 and 16 wanted to be a popstar.
Dr Lesley Walker, Director of Information at Cancer Research UK, says says: “This is very good news for Scotland where incidence of cancer has been traditionally high. It seems that teenagers are taking on board health warnings and are determined to lead healthier lives. We know that children aged 11 to 16 are actively making decisions that will influence their future health.
“It’s crucial that Cancer Research UK gets in early to inform these kids and encourages them to form healthy habits for life. Using a pop band to get this message across is a fantastic idea.
“It’s very easy to presume that we know how kids feel. We believe that we have a lot to learn about children’s attitudes and their aspirations for the future and the more we understand, the easier it will be for us to help.”
- More than 600 people took part in the survey
A recent study showed that sunburn in childhood can double the risk of malignant melanoma in adulthood.
It’s estimated that 80 per cent of lifetime exposure to the sun is before the age of 21.
One in five children aged 4 to 18 eat little or no fruit and on average children eat less than two portions a day.
The incidence of cancer is the UK is increasing. In 1998 there were 7,000 extra cases of the disease compared to 1994.
National statistics for 2000 revealed that 10 per cent of pupils aged 11-15 were regular cigarette smokers (defined as usually smoking at least one cigarette a week) – a drop from 13 per cent in 1996. Although 10 per cent were classed as regular smokers figures showed that 17 per cent of pupils had smoked at least one cigarette in the previous week. Only one per cent of 11 year olds were regular smokers compared with 23 per cent of 15 year olds.
Cancer Research UK recently launched ‘Help A Friend To Stop Smoking’. The project teaches school children how to offer support and effective and realistic advice to friends trying to kick the habit. It develops listening and communication skills and coaches children in how to deal with confidential subjects. It is designed to fit into a school’s curriculum as either a module in Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) or Science classes. The plan is available from the Cancer Research UK website (http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/aboutus/publications).