Connect with us


The Main Health Problems For Today’s Youth (According To WHO)

The Main Health Problems For Today's Youth

The World Health Organization launched a fact sheet last year detailing the biggest health concerns for adolescents and young adults. Some of the findings were shocking, while others were incredibly interesting. The most intriguing thing of all is looking at some of the unique health concerns young people face today that they may not have faced a decade or two decades ago. 

What are these health issues? We’ve selected the most prominent ones from the fact sheet and explained their significance in the content below. 

Mental Health Issues

It’s no great secret that mental health issues amongst the younger population have gotten worse. This is backed up by CDC findings showing that depression and anxiety have increased over time since 2003. You may wish to take this with a pinch of salt; it could be that these issues have always been as prevalent but young people were more reluctant to talk about them in the past. 

Nevertheless, one can definitely point to the rise in social media as a reason for more mental health issues in younger people. There’s so much pressure put on young people to “fit in” at school or university and constant exposure to other people’s lives online makes this worse. Throw in the growing concerns about online bullying and it’s easy to see why the younger generation are less mentally healthy than they once were. 

Despite being a major health concern, we can take some solace from the fact that this has led to more discourse around mental health in general. The younger generation is leading the way when it comes to discussing mental health issues and making them public. This alone can help lots of youths suffering from anxiety, depression, ADHD, or anything else. Knowing that your problem is “normal” and others deal with it too can help you find ways to deal with the situation. 

Alcohol & Drug Abuse

Medical experts around the world are seriously concerned about alcohol and drug abuse among adolescents and young adults. Once more, we may point to social media as a catalyst here. Yes, youth drinking and drug use aren’t new; young people have been doing these things for generations. The presence of social media has popularized and normalized these behaviors, which encourages more young people to go out and get drunk or take drugs. 

Moreover, we as a society have fostered a culture that encourages alcohol and drug abuse. Adverts for alcohol are everywhere we go and we give platforms to celebrities who take drugs and make them seem “cool.” Adults can do whatever they want to their bodies, but we shouldn’t be encouraging teenagers and younger people to do the same. Too many young adults and adolescents end up in drug rehab facilities these days. This section of the population is more impressionable than most – and more likely to develop addictive tendencies. Something must be done to quell this as it’s having a huge impact on youth health. 

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has gone on record as saying that young people are more likely to binge drink, leading to long-lasting health effects. This includes some of the things we’ll talk about later in this article – weight gain and heart problems. As if that’s not bad enough, there are strong links between underage alcohol/drug consumption and deaths. This is either a direct result of over-consumption or caused by accidents while drinking/taking drugs. 

Governments around the world impose laws and regulations to stop underage drinking, though they never work. The only way to tackle this is through a culture shift – and that starts with marketing. Alcohol companies shouldn’t be allowed to advertise their products through traditional or social media. These adverts often paint the picture of alcohol providing a “good time” and being essential to having fun. It’s why so many teenagers grow up in school drinking on the weekends. They don’t like the taste of alcohol; they do it because it’s supposedly “fun.”

Smoking & Vaping

Our discussion about alcohol and drug abuse leads perfectly to another colossal concern for today’s youth: smoking and vaping. Once more, the CDC has some staggering findings relating to this that truly showcase how big of a problem it is. We’ve taken the most important facts from their guide on Smoking & Tobacco Use to show you here: 

  • 90% of adults who smoke cigarettes daily first try smoking before they turn 18
  • 1 in every 100 middle school students state they smoked cigarettes
  • Flavored tobacco products make smoking more appealing to young people

Everyone knows the dangers and adverse health effects of smoking cigarettes and tobacco products. It will lead to long-term respiratory health problems that are often irreversible. There’s also a much higher risk of developing several forms of cancer when you smoke cigarettes. 

It’s a terrible habit, but vaping isn’t much better. While vape products don’t contain tobacco or many of the other harmful chemicals in cigarettes, there are studies suggesting that inhaling the vapor from a vape can cause lung damage. Not to mention that most vape products still contain nicotine, which is a highly addictive substance. 

The biggest concern here is how vape companies market their products. They use bright colors and flavors that directly appeal to kids and teenagers. It’s no surprise that 15% of 11 to 15-year-olds have vaped at least once! Vaping was introduced to the world as a healthier alternative to smoking that helps people kick the habit. Ironically, by appealing to kids, it’s now doing the opposite. Young people get into vaping and then it becomes a springboard to explore other things, like smoking cigarettes. 

Weight Gain & Physical Activity

For many years, there’s been a growing worry that the younger generation isn’t as active as it once was. Without wanting to sound too “old school” this is all down to the internet. The emergence of this technology has given children and teenagers more ways to entertain themselves at home. This can be extremely beneficial for some kids – playing online games or chatting with people online is their source of relief. The downside is that it makes them far less physically active. 

The World Health Organization proves this with a global study showing 81% of adolescents were insufficiently physically active. Comparatively, only 28% of adults were classed as insufficiently physically active. There’s clearly a connection here between how young people live their lives and the lack of physical activity. 

This also has obvious side effects on someone’s physical health. If you’re not active, you will see the following health concerns develop over time: 

  • Excessive weight gain
  • Poor cardiovascular health
  • Poor respiratory health
  • Poor posture
  • More inflammation throughout the body
  • A higher risk of developing diseases

Excessive weight gain is the big one; if you aren’t active, you will gain weight. From here, you will develop all sorts of issues ranging from joint pain to problems with your heart. Overweight individuals are likely to live shorter lives and be more at risk of developing heart disease. Young people are making life harder for themselves by not being physically active enough. 

Environmental Health

The final thing we took from the WHO fact sheet was the growing problems associated with environmental health and the youth of today. As climate change continues to grip the planet, it’s leading to a host of health problems that young people didn’t have to deal with in years gone by. 

Of all the issues, pollution is the biggest. Rising levels of pollution in the air mean young people are breathing in more pathogens than ever before. In some parts of the world, the air is so dirty it leads to long-term respiratory conditions – like asthma or allergies. Concerns also exist about increases in heavy metals within water supplies as a result of pollution and how this could cause permanent health damage to younger generations. 

Furthermore, climate change usually coincides with the planet heating up. This means the sun is getting hotter and we’re being exposed to more UV rays than ever before. Younger people are growing up exposed to these UV rays, so there’s potentially a higher risk of skin cancer or other associated health concerns. 

Conclusion: Is Youth Health in Danger?

Some of the older generation out there will argue that today’s youth face no greater threat to their health than ever before. However, you can’t argue that growing social and cultural trends have impacted public health. Most notably the rise of the internet and social media. While both of these things seem in no way linked to youth health, they’ve had devastating effects on countless things. 

Social media and the internet have encouraged young people to stay indoors more, which impacts their physical health. More to the point, these things have influenced younger generations and led to bigger problems with mental health and drug/alcohol/tobacco abuse. 

Youth health is in danger of getting worse and worse if nothing changes. Hopefully, after being made aware of the issues published in the WHO fact sheet, more governments and societies will take action to protect the youth. 

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Text Translator

Awards Ceremony

Click on the Image to view the Magazine

Translate »