Over two thirds of youths do not take enough exercise, smoke, drink excessively or consume cannabis. Alcohol and drug abuse is mainly found in native Dutch boys, whereas lack of exercise is mainly observed in young people with a foreign background. One in five young people practise a combination of two or more of these unhealthy behaviours.
One in five young people are heavy drinkers
In the period 2007/2009, one in five people in the age category 15–25 smoked on a daily basis, one in five were heavy drinkers and one in ten had taken cannabis in the month prior to the survey. One in two did not get enough exercise.
Boys appear to be extra susceptible to alcohol and drugs. For example, 28 percent of boys were in the category heavy drinkers and 12 percent used cannabis versus 11 and 5 percent respectively for girls. The proportion of daily smokers and the proportion who did not comply with the Dutch Standard for Healthy Exercise (NNGB) was about the same for both genders.
Unhealthy lifestyle 15 to 25-year-olds by gender, 2007/2009
Native Dutch tend to smoke and drink, people with foreign background do not get enough exercise
The proportion of daily smokers and heavy drinkers was higher among young native Dutch than among young people with a foreign background, but in the latter category the proportion who did not get enough exercise was higher. The proportion of cannabis users was more or less the same for both groups. Lack of exercise was the most common form of unhealthy behaviour in both groups.
Unhealthy lifestyles 15 to 25-year-olds by ethnic background, 2007/2009
One in five young people practise a combination of unhealthy habits
One in five youths have at least two unhealthy habits. Among 15 to 25-year-olds, 14 percent used one or more drugs in combination with a level of exercise not complying with the NNGB. More than 5 percent took more than one drug, but did get enough exercise. If young people take more than one drug, it often concerned tobacco and cannabis. On the other hand, one third of young people had enough exercise, were no heavy drinkers or daily smokers or cannabis users.
Combinations of unhealthy behaviours among 15 to 25-year-olds, 2007/2009
Francis van der Mooren and Jan-Willem Bruggink