The Public Health Agency of Canada Releases Report on the Health of Young People in Canada

Press release issued by The Public Health Agency of Canada

Ottawa, April 2, 2008 - “Students spend important time at home, in school, and with friends, and their socio-economic status and social conditions are believed to have an increasing effect on their health,” said Federal Health Minister Tony Clement. “By looking at these contexts, we can learn more about the impact certain settings and conditions have on risk-taking behaviours and health outcomes for Canada’s youth, and better understand how we can promote their overall health and well-being.”

Some key findings indicate positive changes in the health behaviours and attitudes of young people since the last report in 2004.  For example, smoking rates have declined among both boys and girls, and reports of marijuana use and alcohol consumption have also decreased. However, challenges remain, including high rates of overweight and obesity, sedentary behaviour and physical injury.

“In order to effectively promote and support the health school-age children and youth, building a solid evidence-base is essential,” said Dr. David Butler-Jones, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer.  “This study will help us to measure the health progress of Canada’s young people and to better promote their health and well-being, by providing evidence to assist us in planning and recommending effective health policy and programming initiatives targeted at middle childhood and adolescence.”

The report is based on Canadian data from the 2006 survey of the cross-national World Health Organization study — Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC). Canada is one of 41 participating countries in Europe and in North America. The survey was carried out by Queen’s University with support from the Public Health Agency of Canada. More than 9,500 students from Grades 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 participated in the 2006 survey.

“Information about young people’s health should be interpreted by also looking at the social environment,” said Dr. William Boyce, director of Queen's University's Social Program Evaluation Group (SPEG). “This allows interventions to be planned that can improve health in specific contexts.”


The HBSC study considers how socioeconomic status, the family, peers and school shape the health and well-being of young people, and concludes that the best opportunity for success in interventions could lie in a focus on the home and school settings. At the same time, study results indicate that the greatest need for interventions could lie within the peer context and in social income policy.

The full text of the Healthy Settings for Young People in Canada report and a summary booklet of the key findings are available on-line at

For more information on the cross-national Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study, please visit (site disponible en anglais seulement).

Media Inquiries:

Laryssa Waler
Office of the Honourable Tony Clement
Minister of Health Canada
(613) 957-0200

Philippe Brideau
Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada
(613) 948-4532

Nancy Dorrance
News & Media Services
Queen University