Young People’s Health in Great Britain and Ireland

NUI Galway have co-authored a report, with the World Health Organisation, on childhood in Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales. They find that children in Ireland are healthier and happier than those in England, Scotland & Wales.

Per the press release :-

Irish children are more likely than their UK counterparts to report high life satisfaction, and less likely to report feeling low or having poor body image. In this country, children are more likely to engage in physical activity and less likely to spend excessive time on computers or on games console use. They are also most likely to live with both parents and in bigger households, to report that they are able to talk to their fathers about things that bother them and to spend time with friends after school. The report also highlights the lack of data on sexual behaviour among Irish adolescents.

The report can be downloaded from here

I certainly found this surprising –

Young people in England were most likely to report drinking beer at least weekly (11.2%), followed by Wales (10.2%), Scotland (8.0%) and Ireland (3.8%).

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    I heard the quarene from Galway intervierwed on the Radio this morning – she was embarassingly bad. Not sure if she was psychologist or not – but she sounded vague and unscientific enough to be.

  • Mack

    If it was Dr. Saoirse Nic Gabhainn, then I think she is qualified as a Clinical Phsycologist, but is a Senior Lecturer instead or perhaps as well –

    Sure we know your views on social scientists at this stage ISammyMcNWDI..

  • Mack

    Ah – C.Psychol is a chartered Psychologist, not Clinical. Going through the report affluence seems to be a big factor, so I wonder if the better outcomes for Ireland are down to increased wealth?

  • Panic, These Ones Likes It Up Them.

    Whats a quarene ?


  • Where’s Galyway?


  • Was Northern Ireland excluded from the survey? I can find no local references.

  • Mack

    Horseman – oops.

    Nevin – I presume so, searched the doc for “Northern” – no matches. A pity.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    From my poor memory.

    RTE Interveiwer: How did you establish how happy the children were?

    Quareone: Pause, we asked them.

    RTE Interveiwer: A number of different questions about their happiness?

    Quareone: No – (tone of voice seemingly realising how silly it sounded ) no we just asked them if they were happy.

    Question not asked by RTE Interviewer: Where were the teachers other adults stationed when said questions were being asked. Standing nearby with a big stick perhaps?

    It then transpired the good heart happy Irish kids were not asked any questions on…. yes you have guessed it – the “S” word – but all the other countries kids were asked.

    The boy Dev would be proud.


    Many psychologists undoubtedly do good scientific work but useless feckers rambling around investigating something as unmeasurable as ‘happiness’ bring the profession into disrepute and along with economics it is probably the most overrated ‘discipline’ based on the unscientific jibber-jabber we are subjected to from its proponents.

  • Mack, I also included “Belfast” but no mention of it either.

  • Mack

    ISammyMcNWDI –

    It probably would have been harder to get parental approval for participation in the survey if they asked those questions here. Perhaps they tried and struggled?

    If parents were present during questioning it may explain the differences in reported alcohol intake patterns.

  • niall

    Ah c’mon please!

    To think the children of these island can be broken up into Irish English Scots Welsh and conclusions reached?

    Surely not.

    Urban, suburban, rural, poor, ambitious, rich, idustrial, agricultural, services, employment, education, parents etc should be a headline rather than nationality?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    yes – that was the other thing – fancy trying to relegate us from the top drinking division.

    But perhaps they are right and we are actually failing to produce a new generation of hardened drinkers to uphold our proud sterotypical image – will we soon have to rename Slugger to Sipper?

    Deep Shame.

  • Hmm…

    I don’t go in much for happiness myself, let alone measuring it, but check out Richard Layard on the ‘new science of happiness’ here:

    There’s a long old history of this sort of thing, going all the way back to Jeremy Bentham’s ‘felicific calculus’ which sought to quantify pleasures on seven different dimensions.
    so Layard’s new science turns out to be rather old science after all.

    Richard Wilkinson reckons we can connect all of this back to relative inequality however ( – I’m not sure if this figures too prominently in psychological studies though…

  • Driftwood

    Any report that purports to be ‘scientific’ and appears in the press is usually anything but. Ben Goldacre (Doctor and Guardian commentor) has an excellent website on health quackery.

  • Hmm, back before Bentham to our very own Francis Hutcheson ๐Ÿ™‚

    that Action is best, which procures the greatest Happiness for the greatest numbers; and that, worst, which, in like manner, occasions Misery 1725

  • Greenflag


    ‘I also included โ€œBelfastโ€ but no mention of it either.’

    A wonderful survey then ;). Any survey that does not mention Belfast or NI must by default be skewed as well as a pleasure to read ๐Ÿ˜‰

    panic ,

    ‘quarene’ = quare one minus the o and Dr Saoirse Nic Gabhainn = Dr Freedom Smith ๐Ÿ˜‰ Has a good ring to it although more than a bit OTT in the English.

    Of course anybody with half a brain would know why drinking is down among the underaged . They’re just not getting enough pocket money these recession days and the price of a pint of plain is ridiculous and the alcohol limits are facing a further reduction . As the Irish still have more kids per family among the age group surveyed than English , Scots or Welsh the ‘disposable ‘ amount of income which can be devoted to Arthur Guiness employee’s pension funds will be less per head than for their English , Scots or Welsh cousins .

    As Ireland sobers up let the world beware . Others have commented that the Irish unclouded in their thought processes by the demon drink are a dangerous shower of ‘fec***s’ and may take over your country before the words jack robinson can be uttered twice ๐Ÿ˜‰

    And for Nevin who is distraught at NI not being mentioned I would’nt take it too much to heart . I’d guess that NI is probably half way between Scottish and Irish results with the strong possibility that drunken protestant teenagers may less numerous than their catholic equivalents simply because more of them are beating the crap out a drum at band practice rather than beating a path to the nearest liquor store or pub ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Hmm…

    Yes, indeed – from the Inquiry into the Original of Our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue – in fairness to the Saintfield man though, he wasn’t too worried about quantifying any of this though!

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    We are indeed fortunate that we are such a rich and affluent nation that we can well afford these crucial matters to be investigated and that we have no need for our Universities to divert their resources to actually helping to improve the economic health of the country otherwise this extremely valuable research might not have seen the light of day.


    is in indeed reassuring to run with your theory that economic considerations, which can hoperfully be reversed, may explain the reported shocking fall off in Ireland’s main cultural/sporting activity and upon which we have established our international reputation.

  • George

    Urban, suburban, rural, poor, ambitious, rich, idustrial, agricultural, services, employment, education, parents etc should be a headline rather than nationality?

    Naturally all the changes could be based on the urban, suburban, etc factors you mention but a geographical/national assessment is as good a way as any to see if there is an overall difference before drilling down as to why.

    Then you could ask is there a discrepancy because Irish children have a different education system, a different political system, different religious make-up etc.

    But I don’t see a problem with dividing it on a national/regional basis initially.

  • borderline

    Ireland is the correct term for the 26 county state according to it’s Constitution, and the name of the big state closest to it is the United Kingdom. Whether I like it or not.

    But if one is going to refer to Ireland in the context of England, Scotland and Wales, then it should be the whole island, not 26 counties of it. Or at least, Nic Ghabhann should clarify that Northern Ireland was excluded from her study. (which would be ridiculous)

    All this daft survey indicates is that NUIG Health Promotion staff have little to do, (exactly how many “health promoters” are paid by the taxpayers on this island?)
    and are unsure of geopolitical terminology.


  • Greenflag, fancy you being the only one to notice my distraughtness; I didn’t even notice it myself ๐Ÿ™‚

    Drum blattering in these parts is indulged in by ‘both sides of the house’ and some are ‘lacquered’ before, during and after the event ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Ryan

    Could the results of this survey not be debated seriously? I think virtually every response has been trivial. Presumably, if the results had been reversed, it would have been. The survey results vindicate Ireland’s relative social conservatism. Quite simply, divorce rates are far lower in Ireland than in Britain, and a far higher proportion of children in Ireland live with both their parents. And, as anyone with an IQ greater than 50 might have predicted from this, it has led to those children being both happier and healthier. I doubt if the results of this survey will figure prominently in Fintan O’Toole’s next column. Northern Ireland wasn’t included, but would probably have come in between the Republic and Britain if it had been.

  • Mack

    Ryan that’s possibly the case, but beware correlation != causation. I wonder why though they separated family structure as a vertical concern, showing the impact of gender, family affluence, country and age – rather than as a horizontal concern giving a breakdown for each category including by family structure.

    That way you’d see what impact family structure had. Surprising they chose not to present this..

  • Henry94

    I told my teenage son that Irish children were happier than UK children and his response was “Jesus, I’d hate to see the UK children”

  • Greenflag

    Nevin ,

    I didnโ€™t even notice it myself ๐Ÿ™‚

    In ancient Greece those who would know or notice consulted the Oracle at Delphi . In recent years the Great Google or Wiki are searched for knowledge . But those who truly seek the unvarnished truth of things past present and to come consult Greenflag ๐Ÿ˜‰ And if you don’t believe me place all your money on the first horse in the next steeplechase at Market Rasen which has an X in it’s name. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Henry94 ,

    ‘I told my teenage son that Irish children were happier than UK children and his response was โ€œJesus, Iโ€™d hate to see the UK childrenโ€ ‘

    Ah the refined replies of the Dublin 4 set . But in Dublin 17 it would have been the less refined but more direct ‘

    ‘jayzuz wood yiz ever f**k off you stewpid bollix’

    On a serious note many of these ‘surveys’ do help to publicise some ‘truths ‘ which may never see the light of day and would remain shelved on a dusty shelf or nowadays in a database inacessible to the great unwashed ‘ Too frequently it’s the ‘interpreters’ of these small nuggets of social researched ‘truths’, who attract the headlines and in the maelstrom of short attention span publicity the ‘findings ‘ are exaggerated to prove as I read in one recent survey – that French and German babes wail differently from as early as their first month because of the linguistic background which their little ears pick up ?

    In deference to the grammatical complexities of the German language and the positioning of the verb – the German bawlers start off with a loud burst and gradually peter off towrds the end – apparently in search of the verb which is nearly always located at the end of the sentence . French babies on the other hand start off with a high followed by a low pitch and maintain this up and down consistency until presumably they fall asleep or until the german baby finally finds his/her verb and is prompted to arise from said crib and march east to put an end to that continual french whine ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I look forward to the findings of a similar survey on unionist and republican babies in NI ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Dr Saoirse ? Now theres a survey the result of which could be predicted accurately by any of sluggers bloggers eh ;)?