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Teenagers health


school, park, street corner, MacDonalds, youth club, football team, home ... Research with Scottish adolescents suggests worries about being fat are a major ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Teenagers health

Teenagers health
  • D.Marks_at_city.ac.uk

Lecture outline
  • The biopsychosocial and environmental context
  • Health not important
  • Being, looking and feeling cool
  • Eating and smoking

Recommended reading
  • Shucksmith, J. Hendry, L.B. (1998).
  • Health issues and adolescents. Routledge.
  • Lloyd, B. Lucas, S. (1998).
  • Smoking in adolescence Images and identities.

The worlds young population
  • 29 of the worlds population between
  • 10 and 25.
  • 83 lived in developing countries.
  • (WHO, 1990).

  • Onset of puberty (10 years) to age of
    independent adulthood (15-19) which depends upon
    culture, social class, etc.
  • Puberty rapid height and weight increases
  • secondary sexual characteristics
  • reproductive maturity

Research on youth culture
  • Late 1960s - youth revolution against the Vietnam
    war - Woodstock or flower power generation -
    make love not war
  • Challenged established norms and institutions.
  • Social scientists/psychologists could not explain
    why this had happened.
  • Jessor Jessor (1977) carried out a longitudinal
    study of US school and high school students -
    problem behaviour theory

Children and young people are seen as an alien
  • Children are a people, and they live in a
    distant land
  • From The Mysterious People by Olle Adolfson
    (Swedish folk singer)
  • SourceShuksmith Henry, 1998

Young peoples health
  • Researched from a medically-oriented,
    middle-class, middle-aged adulthood perspective
  • E.g the terms risk behaviour and problem
    behaviour are applied to most aspects of
    teenagers recreational activities, incl.
    smoking, drinking, drugs and sexuality.
  • These behaviours are rarely viewed as necessary
    and normal stages of normal psychosocial
    development and experience.

  • Anecdotal evidence
  • Observational methods
  • Surveys, interviews questionnaires
  • Qualitative methods focus groups, discourse,
    diaries, narratives

  • Developmental theory
  • Social representation/identity theory
  • Deviance/alienation theory
  • Problem behaviour theory
  • Sensation seeking and risk taking theory

Developmental perspective
  • Bronfenbrenners ecological model
  • microsystems primary groups and settings, incl.
    school, park, street corner, MacDonalds, youth
    club, football team, home
  • mesosystems interrelations and linkages among
    two or more settings (e.g. friends may share some
    of these settings a parent may be a football
    coach, a member of the PTA, and/or a youth club
    leader parents may be friends and share info.)

Adolescent health behaviours
  • Increased interest in experimentation
  • plus
  • a self-centred view of the world
  • plus
  • feelings of indestructibility

Social context
  • Shifts in varying degrees from a family-centred
  • context to a peer-centred context.
  • Peer groups and media figures (teenage heros)
    provide models and values
  • fashion, music, sex, drinking, smoking, drug
    use, sports
  • A third influence is parents.

C o o l (L A B E L)
  • L ooks
  • A ttitude
  • B ehaviour
  • E njoyment
  • L anguage

Adolescent concerns
  • Issues may peak in importance at different ages
  • 13 years concern about gender role
  • 15 years acceptance or rejection from peers
  • 16 years gaining independence from parents
  • SourceShuksmith Henry, 1998.

Adolescent egocentrism (Elkind, 1967)
  • 2 types of thinking
  • the imaginary audience
  • the belief that others are as preoccupied with
    their behaviour as they are
  • the personal fable
  • a sense of personal uniqueness (no one
    understands me), omnipotence and

Problem behaviours
  • cigarette smoking
  • drinking alcohol
  • taking illicit drugs
  • early unprotected sexual intercourse
  • delinquency

Adolescent risk taking
  • Experimentation - a necessary way of learning
    by trial and error
  • 2 types of factor
  • Biopsychosocial endogenous to the individual -
    affective states, sensation-seeking, attitudes,
    beliefs, knowledge, intentions, values placed on
  • and expectation for academic performance.
  • Environmental exogenous to the individual -
    school, health promotion, parental and peer
    pressure, media, substance availability

Just say no
  • Telling adolescents to Just say no is like
    telling Christopher Colombus to stay home.
  • Frank Farley (1985 In Blackman, R. et al.
    (eds.) Proceedings of a conference on adolescent
    risk-taking behaviour.

Health is an insignificant factor
  • Teenagers find it difficult or impossible at the
    age of 15 to think about the health of a
    50-year-old stranger, that is, themselves 35
    years into the future (Coffield, 1992)
  • Young people ignore messages on diet, exercise,
    smoking, drinking etc if the messages conflict
    with their immediate goals in the here and now -
    losing weight fast having a good time,
    immediate gratification.
  • SourceShuksmith Henry, 1998

Eating, appearance and diet
  • Issues about eating rarely seen in health terms.
    Eating is all about weight, body shape and
  • E.g. 40 of Scottish 15-year-olds said they
    thought they should lose weight, and half were
    already dieting.
  • Similar findings from across the western world.
  • Source Shuksmith Henry, 1998

Identity and body image
  • Adolescent and adult females often express
    dissatisfaction with their body shape and weight.
  • Many judge themselves as too fat even when of
    average build or thin, esp. the middle-or
  • Young men are less affected although it is on the
    increase and many teenage males would like to be
    more muscular.
  • SourceShuksmith Henry, 1998.

Identity and body image
  • Research with Scottish adolescents suggests
    worries about being fat are a major issue, esp.
    in girls.
  • Girls are concerned about their friends
    opinions boys are more concerned about being
    attractive to the opposite sex.
  • Unrealistic stereotypes, attempting to
    approximate cultural ideals reinforced by the
    media, lead to problems in adjustment, incl.
    eating disorders.
  • SourceShuksmith Henry, 1998.

Teenage smoking
  • Prevalence increased in the UK in the 1990s.
  • Health education appears to be failing.
  • Higher prevalence is associated with parental
    smoking, nonstandard families, and peer smoking.

Smoking as a meaningful activity
  • Lloyd Lucas (1998) argue that smoking smoking
    actually fulfils a variety of functions in the
    everyday lives of many adolescents
  • Lloyd Lucas explored young peoples meanings of
    smoking in a non-judgmental manner.
  • Source Lloyd Lucas, 1998

Smoking and mood
  • 1/ Pleasure
  • 2/Control stress/alter moods
  • 3/ Rebellious identity
  • 4/ Peer group bonding
  • 5/ Time filler

Social identity
  • Self perception scales
  • 1/ Positive vs negative self-evaluation
    -exciting, happy, popular, healthy, clever, makes
    up own mind vs. dull, unhappy, unpopular,
    unhealthy, thick, follows others
  • 2/ Fun loving - likes partying, liked the
    opposite sex, attractive, cool
  • 3/ Conforming vs nonconforming - cared about
    environment, likes school work vs rule breaking,
    doesnt like school work
  • Source Lloyd Lucas, 1998

  • Lloyd Lucas (1998) conclude their research by
    arguing for a change in thinking about the role
    of education
  • not only as a vehicle leading to academic
    qualificiations but as an opportunity to promote
    self-esteem, to instil a sense of purpose, to
    develop positive relationships with adults and to
    foster an appreciation in both adolsecents and
    adults of pupils developmental potential and
  • (p. 189)

Promoting healthy development
  • WHO 7 point plan
  • A supportive environment over a long period
  • with graded steps towards autonomy, enhancing
    self-esteem and a healthy lifestyle
  • Good communication between young people and key
    adults and peers
  • Approaches based on a sound understanding of
    cultural beliefs and behaviour
  • Use of people who respect the young, have a
    sound knowledge of their needs, and are trained
    in commn. Skills

Promoting healthy development(continued)
  • Focusing on total lifestyle rather than
    individual aspects of behaviour
  • An intersectoral approach with the full
    involvement of key groups who deal with young
    people, incl. The school, the family, the health
    system, religious and community leaders
  • and community organisations
  • The greatest possible involvement of young
    people themselves in planning and implementation
    of programmes

Health promotion or social control?
  • Adults perceive adolescents as at risk,
    rebellious or out of control.
  • Health education is seen as one means for
    educating young people to think about their
    actions and make responsible choices, say no,
  • Is health education anything more than social

  • 1/ Family, school and community expectations
    about problem behaviours are out of step with
    the psychosocial realities of adolescent
  • 2/ Adolescent health is a topic low on facts,
    high on moralising, and with poor understanding.
  • 3/ Adolescents themselves are hardly ever
    included in the research design process - they
    need and deserve a voice, a platform, and more
    respect as citizens.
  • 4/ Coolness is more important than healthiness.
  • 5/ It is not surprising that health education is
    failing. Until it is cool to be healthy,
    education is unlikely to bring about the changes
    to which it aspires.
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