Vulnerable Youth: A Study of Obesity, Poor Mental Health, and Risky Behaviours among Adolescents in Canada

— Doug Willms

Timeline: July 2002 - July 2004 (Completed)
Funding Amount: $200,000

What is this research Project about?

Studies have shown that the health status of adolescents appears to have declined when compared with the health of previous generations, and that adolescents are putting themselves at short-term and long-term health risks through health-related behaviours. This research project is examining questions related to five key health problems among Canadian adolescents: poor mental health, overweight and obesity, unsafe sex, alcohol and drug use, and smoking. It is looking at the prevalence of each and identifying the determinants of these problems at the family, peer-group, school and community levels.

How will this research be done?

This research is using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Children and Youth, the National Population Health Survey and relevant provincial and international survey data to estimate the influence of risk and social factors on the development of poor health outcomes in youth. The researchers hope to discern the age when youth are most vulnerable to developing these problems (i.e., becoming obese, developing poor mental health, participating in risky behaviours). Using geographic information systems (GIS) and statistical techniques, the researchers will be able to identify where the majority of the vulnerable teens reside and describe the variation in teen vulnerability among communities and provinces.

Why is this research important?

This research will address questions highly relevant to policy makers: How many teens are vulnerable? What factors contribute to their vulnerability? Where do they live? What policies are most effective in addressing these problems? The results of this research project will provide a base for ongoing monitoring of these important health outcomes at the Federal level and will be equally useful to policy-makers, health care practitioners, researchers, and parents concerned with the well-being of Canadian adolescents.

Doug Willms
Canadian Research Institute for Social Policy
University of New Brunswick
Fredericton, NB

Research Results and Publications

Summary Report and List of Publications