RESEARCH – June 2009

Results of the HBSC (Health Behaviour in School-aged Children) studies conducted in the academic years of 2001/2002 and 2005/2006 in Estonia


Articles PDF


The HBSC (Health Behaviour in School-aged Children) survey is a WHO collaborative cross-national study initiated in 1982. The aim of the survey was to describe the health and the health behaviour of 11–15-year-old schoolchildren in their social context. The study is conducted every 4 years among schoolchildren aged 11, 13 and 15. Data are collected using an anonymous standardized questionnaire. In 2005/2006, 41 countries/regions across Europe and North America participated in the survey. In 2006 the data about 4477 schoolchildren were collected in Estonia. In comparison with the academic year 2001/2002 the last survey revealed several positive but also a few negative trends.

1. Health. Schoolchildren’s subjective estimation of their health has improved and the frequency of perceived health complaints has decreased. At the same time, in 2006 more overweight boys were found in the age group of 11-13 compared to the academic year 2001/2002.

2. Dietary habits. In all age groups fruit and vegetables were more frequently included in the diet. The increase in daily fruit consumption was about 10% and the increase in vegetables consumption was 5–6%.

3. Physical activity. The proportion of those who have been moderately physically active for at least 60 minutes every day has markedly increased over the period of four years. This indicator was also associated with  the economic situation: the better was the economic situation of the family, the higher was the parameter of physical activity.

4. Risk behaviour. There has occurred a slight decline in the frequency of regular (at least once a week) smoking and consumption of alcohol between the two last HBSC surveys in Estonia. At the same time, Estonia ranks first among the countries/regions participating in the survey considering the percentage of those schoolchildren who had smoked their first cigarette or had been drunk for the first time at the age of 13 or earlier.

5. Cannabis use. Very disturbing is the fact that the number of 15-year-old schoolchildren  who have used cannabis at least once had significantly increased over the period of four years. The relevant figure has increased 8% among boys and 7% among girls.

6. Subjective well-being. Compared to the academic year 2001/2002, in the 2005/2006 survey the score of life-satisfaction of Estonian schoolchildren has increased and mutual relationships between family members have significantly improved. In the 2005/2006 survey the number of schoolchildren who admitted having school stress has significantly decreased, and there are more of those who have reported supportive attitude from classmates.