The Nuffield Trust think tank has reported that young people in the UK are making healthier life choices for themselves than before, but are more likely to die from asthma or have a poor quality of life from long-term conditions compared to counterparts in other high-income countries.
The study found that the UK has the highest rate of deaths from asthma for young people aged 10-24 compared to all European countries in the comparator group, as well as having the highest rates of obesity in 15 to 19-year-olds compared to the other 14 European countries.
Also, nearly one in five young people in the UK are estimated to be living with a long-standing health condition, and the UK is one of the worst countries for young people to suffer from years lost to ill health and the burden of their diseases like diabetes.
The report was written by paediatricians and researchers at the Nuffield Trust and AYPH, and is based on analysis of 17 measures of the health and wellbeing of young people aged 10-24. The indicators examined by the authors include long-standing illnesses; alcohol consumption; cancer mortality; obesity and deprivation.
The general consensus was that while young people in the UK are making some healthier choices, such as drinking less alcohol and smoking less, more are entering adulthood with long-term health conditions, with nearly one in five estimated to be living with a longstanding health condition.
Nigel Edwards, chief executive of the Nuffield Trust said: “Making sure we have a healthy population requires us all to do our bit. More than ever, young people are holding up their side of the bargain, with more of them choosing to smoke and drink less, yet our health system seems to be getting something badly wrong. I worry this reflects a dangerous complacency.”