Järvelaid Mari, Maaroos Heidi-Ingrid
Dept. of Policlinic and Family Medicine of Tartu University, Estonia
Evidence suggest that teenagers begin to make their own decisions on attending health care at the age of 14 to 15 years. This process of becoming independent is also reflected in their private visits to doctor. But teenagers frequently have a hidden agenda behind the apparently physical symptoms, which they bring to the surgery.
Aim: The aim of the investigation was to study the eating habits and complaints of the 15-years Estonian schoolchildren.
Subject and method:
A school-based study using a questionnaire about eating behaviour, health status and self-image involved 336 schoolchildren from the 9 th forms of six schools.
Results: 53% of girls and 73% of boys ate breakfast every morning, in average 60%. 88% of breakfast eaters assessed themselves in full health versus 2% of breakfast non-eaters (p=0.0001). 78% of responders answered that they had visited their doctor on their own. The subjects who had observed a diet to lower weight in past or were dieting at the time of questionnaire usually omitted the breakfast. They also were absent from school more often and assessed their health worse than others. Only 34% of girls and 44% of boys ate a prepared warm school-lunch, whereas there was significant difference between schools - from 67% to 7%. There was a group of 18% of subjects who answered that they always want to eat more. From all subjects 57% of girls and 17% of boys had a wish to weight less. 83% of subjects answered that they are always in full health and 15% of subjects had some chronic disorder. The most frequent complaints of the subjects that they had always or often were the snuffles (23%), allergy (19%), back-pain (9%), stomach-ache (9%), headache (8%). 28% of subjects had had the fracture of bone. Only 4% of girls had never had stomach ache.
The adolescents with regular breakfast and lunch assessed themselves in full health more frequently. There is the tendency to weight less among boys, too. The trend is clearly towards the West-European patterns.