Authors: Shirley Martin, Deirdre Horgan and Margaret Scanlon
Publisher: Department of Children and Youth Affairs
Geographic Coverage: Ireland
Type of Resource: Report
Vulnerable groups: Children, Young People
Developed with children and young people? Yes
Type of participation: Consultations With Children
Availability: Open Access
Keywords: Child, Young People, Physical Exercise, Healthy Living
This report outlines the views of children and young people on factors that help and hinder them in having a healthy lifestyle. A total of 48 children, from third, fourth, fifth and sixth classes in primary schools around the country, participated in this consultation process. Each session began with warm-up games and group formation exercises. The children were divided into six groups. In these groups, they engaged in a range of discussion-based activities, including a ballot box vote on the issues they felt were most important to having a healthy lifestyle.
The main themes that emerged from children aged 8–12 years include their recognition of the importance of eating more healthy foods and less “junk food”, getting enough sleep and physical exercise, playing outdoors and using “your imagination to make up active games”. The children strongly identified smoking (including passive smoking) as a potential threat to health. Home was identified as a source of love and support and a place where children receive guidance about healthy lifestyles, particularly in relation to food choice and exercise. Schools were also seen as playing an important role in providing information and guidance on healthy lifestyles.
Body image and media influences were identified as the main barriers to a healthy lifestyle among teenagers aged 13–17 years. These issues included the pressure to conform to a particular body image. Young people felt that the stigma attached to eating disorders made it difficult for them to discuss this problem. Exam stress and heavy study workloads were identified as contributing to sedentary and unhealthy lifestyles.