Youth drinking down

Young Norwegians drink and smoke less, WHO survey finds


M. Michael Brady
Asker, Norway

Young Norwegians of school age now drink less alcohol and smoke less than ever, according to a recent survey conducted by the University of Bergen, as part of the larger collaborative cross-national survey conducted by the World Health Organization (Further reading).

The University of Bergen survey assessed the health, wellbeing, social environment, and health behavior of children ages 11, 13, 15, and 16. Though drinking alcoholic beverages remains a mark of the transition between childhood and adulthood, it significantly has declined by 30% since the previous survey four years ago. The results for smoking are an even greater indicator of the trend toward healthier lifestyles: fewer than 2% of the school-age children had tried smoking.

Such surveys have long been conducted by the University of Bergen’s Department of Health Promotion and Development, initially founded in 1988 as the Senter for forskning om helsefremmende arbeid, miljø og livstil (HEMIL). The World Health Organization Health Behavior in School-aged Children (HBSC) quadrennial survey started in 1986 and now collects data from some 220,000 people in 42 countries in Europe and North America.

The University of Bergen is involved significantly in the WHO HBSC initiative. One of the HBSC principal investigators is Oddrun Samdal, a University of Bergen Professor of Health Promotion and Health Psychology and since 1999 the manager of the HBSC data bank. She also is the University of Bergen Vice Rector for Education, which reflects one of her principal concerns with the psychosocial environments of schools and their impacts on health behaviors, sates of health, and life satisfaction.

Further reading:

Helse og trivsel blant barn and unge (Health and well-being of children and young people), HEMIL Report 1/2016, University of Bergen, 2016, 184-page PDF, ISBN 978-82-7669-135-1, downloadable free, link at: (in Norwegian only).

Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children (HBSC) Study: International Report from the 2013/2014 Survey, WHO Regional Office for Europe, Copenhagen, 2016, 276-page PDF, ISBN 978-9289051361, downloadable free, link at: (in English).

This article originally appeared in the April 8, 2016, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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