The EU funded research programme also reveals for the first time at European level, food intake and physical activity patterns for adolescents. The Helena Study was conceived to understand and effectively enhance nutritional and lifestyle habits of 13 to 17 year old adolescents in Europe because healthy life-long habits find their routes during this crucial period in life and the number of overweight or obese children in the EU is rising by about 400 000 each year.
One of the most startling findings was the diet composition of adolescents across Europe. There is a lot of scientific data available on obesity prevalence; however this is not the only chronic disease likely to burden today’s adolescents in the future. To gain a greater understanding of general health, the study has created benchmark indicators for the precursors of high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and cardio and cerebro vascular diseases. These data will be extremely valuable to public health experts as they chart the evolution of chronic diseases across Europe in the future.
The proportion of teens accumulating 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day was 58 percent in boys and only 31 percent in girls. However, girls scored better when their nutritional knowledge was tested answering 62 percent of the answers correctly.
The three year research programme did not only look at current health status, it also studied the impact of intervention studies designed to promote moderate to vigorous physical activity and healthy eating. Both of these three-month computer-based interventions had some positive effects in increasing healthy eating - in particular, water, fibre and vegetable consumption - as well as physical activity behaviours.
MEDICA.de; Source: HELENA Study