New Delhi, Nov 7 (PTI) Underweight, risk of cell phone addiction, anxiety, unintentional injuries and violence are the top five health issues among young people in Himachal Pradesh, a recent government study has found.
The health survey, conducted among 2,895 individuals aged 10 to 24 years in Shimla, Kinnaur, Kangra and Sirmaur districts and 12 blocks (three in each district) was aimed to evaluate key factors such as nutrition, substance use (including tobacco and alcohol), mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression, sexual behaviour and personal hygiene, as well as incidents of violence and injury, including road traffic and other injuries.
"Underweight (44.39 per cent), risk of cell phone addiction (19.62 per cent) (19.62 per cent), anxiety (15.54 per cent), unintentional injuries (14.72 per cent) and violence (8.19 per cent) were the top five health impacting problems among young people in Himachal Pradesh," the study stated.
Underweight and anxiety are generally considered a normal characteristic among the young. Both are observed to be more among girls as compared to boys. Injuries and violence are known causes of mortality and morbidity in this age group.
It is common among boys as compared to girls. The emergence of substance use, addiction problems, risk of cell phone addiction, etc. as the top ranked health problems is a matter of serious concern. According to anecdotal reports, these are increasingly becoming major health concerns among young people, the study said.
Furthermore, these risk factors -- significantly contribute to noncommunicable diseases including mental health in later life, can have individual, combined and cumulative effects, are progressive in nature leading to chronicity, can impact life and living (injury and violence leading to some form of impairment/ disability) and are influenced strongly by existing social environments and peer influences.
"These data strongly indicate the importance of utilizing population-level data for evidence-based implementation of programmes. Further, these findings reiterate the need for gender responsive strategies to address underlying health inequities that influence young people's health," the study said.
The survey, conducted by Department of Epidemiology, Centre for Public Health, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Bengaluru, Adolescent Health Division, Ministry of Health and Directorate of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Himachal Pradesh, has been published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research.
A set of 13 questions was used to identify potential cases of depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and substance use involving tobacco, alcohol, and drugs (either injectable or oral). These screening questions were derived from the previous survey experience of the research team.
To ensure a representative sample, a stratified multistage cluster sampling approach was used. Districts and blocks were selected purposely so as to represent the diverse sociodemographic and cultural characteristics of this region. Within each block, thirty clusters were chosen using a probability proportional to size method.
Clusters were defined as villages in rural areas and wards in urban areas.
The clusters were selected by population proportion to size sampling using the standard WHO 30 x 7 cluster technique. Villages and wards were listed as per the census of India 2011 served as sampling frame for cluster selection.
"Overall, 360 rural clusters and 30 urban wards were selected as clusters for the survey," the study said.
The leading health impacting problems identified are preventable and modifiable factors affecting the overall health and development of young people in Himachal Pradesh.
These need to be addressed as priority health problems for interventions with a focus on maintaining positive health through integrated approaches including care provision, risk reduction and health promotion related to these health impacting behaviours.
Such interventions are likely to yield better results towards the overall health and development of young people in Himachal Pradesh, the study stated.
The study encompassed a range of questions covering different domains. It consisted of questions on nutrition, reproductive and sexual health, screening questions for risk of depression, anxiety and suicidality, questions on alcohol, tobacco (chewing/ smoking), and other substance use, injury and violence.
Further, there were questions on mobile phone use, peer influence, exposure and influence of media and health seeking practices.
The nutrition information included respondents' predominant dietary patterns (frequency of consumption of eggs, meat, fish, and unhealthy processed foods) along with information on height and weight for calculation of body mass index (BMI) using the Quetelet index (weight in kg/height in cm2 ) to classify underweight, normal weight, overweight and obese individuals.
Reproductive health questions included awareness about puberty, reproductive health and relationships, age at menarche and menstrual hygiene practices as well as sources of information. The section on sexual health included data on individuals' sexual activity, the number of sexual partners they had, and condoms usage patterns during sexual encounters. Additionally, participants were asked about their sources of information regarding sexual aspects. PTI PLB ZMN