Tuesday, 8 September 2009



Today’s teens are most worried about losing weight and fitting in. But more teenagers from low income families worry about bullying, drugs, and smoking compared to peers from high income families. Surveys for NHS Teen LifeCheck published today reveal social similarities and divides on some of the top teenage concerns.

Of the teenagers surveyed, almost double the number of teens from low income families worried about bullying. However, teens from higher income families are more likely to worry about peer pressure and fitting in.

The research shows:

Worry Low income families High income families

Losing weight 43% 30%
Bullying 41% 21%
Drugs 21% 13%
Smoking 19% 10%
Fitting in 32% 40%
Peer pressure 23% 30%

Further research also shows that almost half (48%) of teens don’t feel they can talk to their friends about their worries because they think they’ll be considered silly or different, and nearly a third (31%) feel that their friends just wouldn’t understand.

The research was undertaken for the NHS Teen LifeCheck website on behalf of the Department of Health. This online service - www.teenlifecheck.co.uk - is aimed at teens with the highest risk of future ill health caused by their lifestyle choices. The website encourages them to complete its quiz and act on the results, and signposts people to support for issues like bullying.

In just three months, www.teenlifecheck.co.uk is already having a considerable impact. More than 100,000 teenagers have completed a LifeCheck, getting advice on topics like bullying and smoking as well as drugs, alcohol, personal safety, healthy eating and exercise. Today’s survey will inform the ongoing development of the site so it is up to date and meaningful to teenagers.

Public Health Minister, Gillian Merron, said:

“Whether teenagers are concerned about their weight or giving up smoking, nearly three quarters of them say they like to get confidential advice. NHS Teen LifeCheck gives teenagers the support to make decisions and choices that can help them to be healthy and happy.”

www.teenlifecheck.co.uk is specifically targeted at young people (12-15) because research has shown that these are the ‘discovery years’, where young people are most likely to experiment. There is a greater opportunity for this age group to recognise and avoid risky behaviours or unhealthy lifestyle choices.

Youth worker Katharine Terrington, said:
“We tend to think that teens share all their worries with those closest to them, but this survey shows that many would find it difficult to talk about certain issues. It’s incredibly important to them to fit in with their mates and often they don’t know whether their worries are normal or not. That’s why a non-judgemental website like teenlifecheck.co.uk can be a huge help.”

The simple, interactive quiz with multiple choice answers guides young people to tailored, non-judgemental feedback, provides top tips and then points them in the direction of more information and support such as www.talktoFrank.co.uk and Childline.

www.teenlifecheck.co.uk is one of a number of initiatives being introduced by the Government to help tackle health inequalities between high and low income families.

Many teens have commented on how helpful www.teenlifecheck.co.uk has been:

• “This really helps me because I’m suffering from a little bit of depression”
• “It helped me understand about being careful about what you do”
• “The LifeCheck helped me on areas to improve in my life.


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