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Health and Lifestyle Study in Children 2003 16 January 2004

The Isle of Man Government, through the Department of Education, the Drug and Alcohol Co-ordinator’s Chief Secretary’s Office and the Department of Health and Social Security’s Directorate of Public Health have launched the Health and Lifestyle Study in Children (HLSC) 2003.

Known simply as HLSC, the study consists of a series of surveys carried out every two years in all schools throughout the Island covering age groups from 10/11 years old (year 6 primary schools) to 14/15 year olds (year 10 secondary schools). Children are asked to fill in a self- completion questionnaire, which covers various aspects of lifestyle, behaviour and attitudes. They are related to nutrition, leisure time, physical activities, friends and school, computer use, and also factors such as smoking, bullying, injuries, alcohol and illicit substances. The study has full approval from the Island’s Local Research Ethics Committee. Responses to the questions are kept strictly confidential, and cannot be traced back to the individual pupil.

Studies like the HLSC are valid and reliable sources of information for Government and enhance the value of other information produced by Government agencies. They are very helpful in assisting the Departments involved in their planning of services. Moreover, the value of the information grows over time as it becomes possible to examine trends. The series of studies allows detection in any overall change in young people’s lifestyle, sometimes known as cultural shifts. Attitudes and behaviour in early adulthood are known to have a major impact in the individual’s and ultimately the adult population’s health status.

A baseline survey was carried out in 2001. Participation was very high with a 90% response rate.

In relation to the 2003 survey the HLSC Co-ordinator, Dr Andreea Steriu, commented:

“I’m very happy to announce the launch of the 2003 survey. The small but dedicated team with which I work have once more shown their commitment to a complex exercise which requires everything to be planned to the smallest detail. I would personally like to thank to the schools and, in advance, parents and children for allowing for this national exercise to be carried out”. Director of Public Health, Dr Ian MacLean, added:

“At present, we have very little reliable information on the health status of our population and factors which affect it. HLSC continues to be invaluable in helping us determine what we should be doing in the interests of good population health, and how successful we are in achieving it”.

Surveys take place during November and first half of December 2003. The results from this round and a report of the HLSC Group covering the results of both 2001 and 2003 surveys will be available next spring.

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