Netherlands young people generally healthier, happier than European peers

Teenagers with smartphones and tablets
Teenagers with smartphones and tabletsPhoto: shmeljov/DepositPhotos

Young people in the Netherlands are generally healthier and happier than young people in most other European countries, according to a study by the European department of the World Health Organization among 227 thousand kids between the ages of 11 and 15 in 45 countries. The Netherlands scored well in all categories, ranging from eating breakfast to how comfortable kids are to talk to their parents.

Overall, the health of school children declined between 2014 and 2018. The Netherlands is one of only three countries, along with Croatia and Spain, where kids' health increased in that period. 

90 percent of Dutch kids say they are comfortable discussing their concerns with their mother, compared to an average of 80 percent in other countries. 81 percent of Dutch children said the same about their father, compared to 65 percent in other countries. Relatively few kids in the Netherlands say they are being bullied, 6 percent, and only 2 to 4 percent say they use social media so often that it causes problems - the lowest percentage of all countries studied. 

The Netherlands scored highest when it came to adolescents in all age groups eating breakfast daily, and scored relatively low when it came to kids not eating any fruit or vegetables. Our country was also one of the three countries with the lowest percentage overweight or obese kids. Though 47 percent of Dutch girls and 21 percent of boys still think they are too fat. 

The Netherlands also seems to be doing well when it comes to gender equality in adolescents, looking at some random stats. Throughout the surveyed countries, about two thirds of adolescents brush their teeth every day. The Netherlands was one of only five countries in which there was no gender difference in the regularity of brushing teeth, and one of three countries in which there was no significant difference in physical activity between boys and girls. 

Dutch kids also scored well when it came to sexual safety. Only 11 percent of adolescents in the Netherlands said that they did not use a condom or the pill at their last sexual intercourse, the second lowest percentage after Denmark (8 percent). In Malta 52 percent of teens said they used no protection. 

On the down side, about a quarter of Dutch kids said they experience problems sleeping at least once a week. They also report experiencing more pressure at school than four years ago. And nearly 20 percent of 15-year-olds in the Netherlands have been drunk at least twice.