15% of Irish schoolchildren report that they are trying to lose weight

The Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) has released its findings from a study of over 15,500 Irish schoolchildren 

A new survey which studied the behaviour of 15,500 schoolchildren in Ireland towards alcohol, smoking, food and exercise, has compiled some very interesting statistics.

The study – which is included in the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) Ireland 2018 study – focused on children aged eight to 18 across a sample of 255 primary and post-primary schools. The HBSC study is carried out every four years. This is the sixth time Ireland has taken part.



The study found that more than six in 10 children (64%) surveyed had never had an alcoholic drink. This is an increase of 6% from a similar survey taken in 2014.

Of the children who had consumed alcohol, 54% had received it from a parent, guardian or sibling. Some also reported taking it from the family home. Another 30% of those surveyed said they received it from friends.

In the 2014 survey, 21% of children said they had been 'really drunk', the current results show this has decreased to 17%. Furthermore, 6% of children disclosed they had been drunk in the previous 30 days, this number was 10% in 2014.


When it comes to smoking and e-cigarettes, 11% of children aged 10-17 have tried smoking. While 22% of 12-17-year-olds have used an e-cigarette. 7% of those surveyed said they had tried cannabis with 4% claiming they had used it in the past 30 days.

Food and diet

A little over half (52%) of the children in the survey said they exercised four or more times per week. 9% of 10-17-year-olds reported they were physically inactive. In the realm of food, 23% said they consumed more than one piece of fruit a day, 21% reported they ate vegetables more than once a day, 21% said they eat sweets more than once a day and 7% drink soft drinks daily.


In 2014, 13% of children disclosed that they didn't eat breakfast. This year the number has dropped by 1%. Those from lower social classes, girls and older children were more likely to say they didn't eat breakfast.

A staggering one in five children (19%) said they had gone to school or bed hungry because there was not enough food in the house.

While 15% of children (mostly girls, older children, lower social classes) said they are trying to lose weight.

Bullying and happiness

30% of children (three in 10) reported being bullied. This number is up 25% from 2014. 16% of those studied said they had been cyberbullied. When it comes to life satisfaction and happiness, there has been a 4% drop from 47% in 2014. Surprisingly, the study found girls are significantly less likely to report being happy than boys.

Health of the nation

Ahead of the launch, Health Minister Simon Harris said the wellbeing of children was a key indicator of the overall health of the nation. He believes while there are some positives with the decline of alcohol and smoking habits, the increase in the use of e-cigarettes is a cause of concern.


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