There is good news and bad news for Dutch parents in the latest issue of the national statistics office’s report on the state of the nation’s youth.
Dutch teenagers are drinking and smoking less, and the number of teenage pregnancies has gone down by 25 percent. But they are getting fatter and therefore feel unhealthy, the CBS report says.
The Netherlands has 4.9 million people under 25 years old. This is one-third of the population, making the country relatively young. A quarter of them are of non-western origin.
Not-so heavy drinkers
Dutch teenagers may have a reputation as heavy drinkers compared to other Europeans, but they are now drinking less. The number of teens who use alcohol has dropped from 85 percent in 2003 to 79 percent in 2007. This is ‘probably’ due to the need to prove you are at least 16 when buying alcohol, says CBS researcher Jan Latten.
The number of youngsters in the 10 to 20 age group who have never smoked has risen from 50 percent in 1998 to 58 percent in 2008. “Smoking is no longer cool,” says Latten.
Just 8 percent of teens sometimes smoke cannabis and 4 percent have tried hard drugs, says the CBS.
Obesity however has increased. One in seven children was classed as too fat in the period 2005 to 2007. “This really shocks me,” said youth and family minister André Rouvoet in a reaction.
The CBS says it is worth noting that both fat and thin children took the same amount of exercise. Obesity is usually linked to a lack of exercise as well as a poor diet.
What is striking is the number of youngsters under social services supervision – a rise of 25 percent to 26,000 between 2002 and 2006. Rouvoet told NRC this is because people are now quicker to intervene. “I am pleased there are more cases of child abuse being reported,” he said.
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