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10% young adults smoke daily

Youths’ habits need to improve to avoid health risk

12 Apr 2019, 19:40 ( 6 Months ago) | updated: 13 Apr 2019, 01:50 ( 6 Months ago)

DF Report
Photo City of Helsinki by Maarit Hohteri.

In many respects, young adults aged between 18 and 29 are healthier than the age groups older, said the National Institute for Health and Welfare(THL) in a press release.

However. Key risk factors of chronic illnesses, including overweight and high LDL cholesterol values, are also relatively common among young adults.

Additionally, there is room for improvement in young adults’ living habits if they wish to avoid having their health impaired by lifestyle-related risks later in adulthood.

This information was revealed by the extensive population-based FinHealth 2017 Study. The current report concerns the age group 18 to 29, whereas the older age groups’ findings were published a year ago.

More than 80% of young men and women found their health and quality of life good.

One out of five of young men and one out of three young women said they had a long-term illness or health problem.

While young adults were affected by fewer of the key risk factors of chronic illnesses than the older age cohorts, these factors were also common in them.

Almost one half of young men and one third of young women were overweight or obese with a body mass index of at least 25 kg/m2. The threshold value for obesity, or a body mass index of at least 30 kg/m2, was exceeded by fewer than one out of five young adults.

“Naturally, the body mass index is not the whole truth about body composition. Muscular young men, for instance, may have a body mass index in excess of the recommended value. However, the large proportion of obese young adults is a particular cause for concern”, said researcher Tuija Jääskeläinen.

One out of three young men and one out of five young women had an increased blood LDL cholesterol level.

Elevated blood pressure was also relatively common, especially in young men, as 14% of the young men in the study’s measurement results met the criteria for elevated blood pressure

One young adult out of ten smokes daily. Compared to the findings of earlier population studies, the proportion of those who smoke daily has declined in the 2000s. It is likely, however, that some of the health benefits from reduced smoking are cancelled out by the widespread use of snuff and e-cigarettes. According to FinHealth 2017 study findings, more than one fifth of young men and more than one out of ten young women used some tobacco product or e-cigarettes daily.

The low number of young adults who eat fresh fruit and vegetables daily was a cause for concern: only 7% of young men and 18% of young women said they eat fresh fruit and vegetables several times a day.

Three out of four young adults said they take part in moderate or strenuous physical activity every week in their free time.

Less than one tenth of the young adults slept no more than six hours a day.

The survey showed that only one half of the young adults had lifestyles which covered all or almost all key aspects for promoting good health. Less than one fifth of young men and more than one tenth of young women had lifestyles with significant adverse health effects.

”Many living habits that affect our health in adulthood become established at the latest when we are young adults”, said Research Manager Päivikki Koponen. "This is why the cumulation of lifestyle factors with adverse effects on health on the same persons should be effectively prevented, at the latest in young adults.”   

The FinHealth study was carried out in a total of 50 municipalities around Finland in 2017. Data was gathered in an extensive health examination, using a questionnaire and through telephone interviews. Young adult participants in the study included 625 persons, 54% of adults aged between 18 and 29 in the sample.