Scottish children 'shunning' fizzy drinks, says WHO study

The survey compares responses from children across 39 European countries

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Fizzy drink consumption amongst Scottish secondary school children has fallen dramatically, according to a World Health Organisation survey.

The same study carried out a decade ago suggested Scottish youngsters drank more fizzy juice than their peers in most other European countries.

Now the number of 11 to 15-year-old girls drinking fizzy drinks every day has halved.

Consumption has also halved in 11 and 13-year-old boys.

Leith Academy pupils spoke to BBC Scotland about the issues in the survey

The survey, Health Behaviour in School-aged Children, compares the responses of 11, 13 and 15-year-old children across 39 European countries to 60 health-related questions.

"There's been a massive improvement," said Candace Currie, professor of child and adolescent health at the University of St Andrews.

"This is an area which has really been paid attention to.

"Vending machines in schools are no longer selling fizzy drinks, so this message really seems to have got across."

Room for improvement

The good:

  • Consumption of fizzy drinks halved since 2002 in nearly all age groups
  • More likely to report "high satisfaction" with life
  • More likely to report three or more close friends

The survey indicates that whilst Scottish children are consuming considerably fewer fizzy drinks, they are not so healthy in other ways.

Whilst fruit consumption has increased, it has not increased as fast as other countries.

Thirteen-year-olds in particular consume the least fruit, with Scotland ranking 28th out of 39 countries.

The bad:

  • Increased fruit consumption but not as much as other countries
  • Reduction in physical activity in girls and boys. Fifteen year olds ranked 34th out of 39 countries
  • Fifteen-year-olds likely to report weekly drinking, drunkenness and having been drunk at 13 or younger
  • Fifteen-year-olds more likely than other countries to say they have had sex

Scotland has also fallen down the league table when it comes to physical activity.

Fifteen-year-olds are the least active age group, leaving Scotland 34th out of 39, behind England and Wales.

Scottish 15-year-olds are also more likely to drink alcohol than their European peers, and are more likely to have had sex.

However, the good news is that Scottish school children seem to be happy.

They are more likely than school children in any other country surveyed to say they have three or more close friends and for the last decade Scottish teens have reported a "high" life satisfaction.

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