Overview

Summary

  • Over 10% of 15 year olds in Glasgow are regular smokers, a similar proportion to other cities in Scotland.
  • Just under half of 13-15 year olds in Glasgow say that at least one parent smokes daily, one of the highest proportions across the major Scottish cities and Glasgow and Clyde Valley local authorities.
  • Three-quarters of 15 year olds in Glasgow report that they have previously had an alcoholic drink, a proportion which is lower than the Scottish average. Of the 15 year olds who have had an alcoholic drink before, 35% have been drunk more than 10 times, a notably higher proportion than in other Scottish cities.
  • The rate of hospital admissions due to alcohol related causes among children and young people in Glasgow varies by neighbourhood and is higher in the most deprived areas than in the least deprived.
  • In Glasgow, more 13-15 year old girls than boys report that they have had an alcoholic drink, but more boys than girls say that they have been drunk more than 10 times.
  • Nearly 1 in 4 15 year olds in Glasgow report that they have taken drugs, a higher proportion than the Scottish average.
  • Only 13% of children and young people in the Glasgow area eat enough fruit and vegetables, similar to the Scottish average.
  • 73% of children and young people in the Glasgow area get enough exercise, similar to the Scottish average.
  • Just under 60% of primary school children, and nearly 50% of secondary schoolchildren in Glasgow actively travel to school, lower proportions than in the other major Scottish cities but higher than in some other Glasgow and Clyde Valley local authorities.
  • The rate of teenage pregnancies in Glasgow is higher than the Scottish average.

This section describes a range of important lifestyle behaviours that can impact on the health and wellbeing of children and young people. Unhealthy lifestyles, particularly from smoking, drinking too much alcohol, misusing drugs, not getting enough exercise and eating an unhealthy diet, can directly harm health in both childhood and adulthood. The lifestyle we develop as we grow up can influence how healthy our behaviours are as adults. Importantly for children and young people, the lifestyles of those around them can also influence their health, wellbeing and behaviour choices.

Unhealthy lifestyles are an important factor in explaining why Glasgow has a poor health record compared to other areas in Scotland and the UK. Increasing levels of harm due to excessive alcohol consumption, including in younger age groups, and rising obesity levels are among the reasons why improving lifestyles is key to improving (and sustaining) health in Glasgow.

Smoking levels among Glasgow’s schoolchildren are comparable to the rest of Scotland. The proportion of schoolchildren in Glasgow reporting that they are regular smokers has remained stable in recent years, with 8% saying that they smoke regularly. This proportion increases with age – 5% of 13 year olds and 11% of 15 year olds say that they smoke regularly – and is slightly higher in girls than boys.

Another important aspect of smoking to consider is second-hand smoke, which children and young people may also be exposed to. Nearly half of schoolchildren in Glasgow report that at least one of their parents smokes on a daily basis. Whilst this has fallen since 2006, it is still one of the highest proportions in Scotland.

Increasing alcohol consumption is an important cause of health and social problems in Scotland and in Glasgow. The overall proportion of schoolchildren reporting that they have previously had an alcoholic drink has fallen slightly between 2006 and 2010, from 64% to 59% in Glasgow. This proportion increases with age, with 74% of 15 year olds in Glasgow reporting that they have previously had an alcoholic drink, a proportion which is lower than the Scottish average and comparable to other Scottish cities. 

A notable difference between Glasgow and the other main Scottish cities is in the number of 15 year olds who have ever had an alcoholic drink and who report that they have been drunk more than 10 times – in Glasgow this is 35% compared to 19% in Aberdeen. This high proportion in Glasgow is however more comparable to other local authorities in the west of Scotland. Glasgow has one of the highest rates of alcohol related hospital admissions among 0-17 year olds in the Glasgow and Clyde Valley area. Within Glasgow there are notable differences between neighbourhoods, with higher (and possibly increasing) rates in the most deprived areas.

Glasgow has high levels of problem drug misuse. 15% of schoolchildren in Glasgow report that they have taken drugs. This is lower than in 2006 and is consistent with decreases across Scotland. More boys than girls and more 15 year olds report that they have taken drugs, similar patterns to other areas in Scotland.

Children and young people can also be adversely affected by drug use in their families. Information collected from adult drug users found that in Glasgow 36% of drug users had children under the age of 16 years old. The majority of adult drug users in Scotland also reported that they were in their teens when they first started to use drugs.

Eating a healthy diet and getting enough exercise are important healthy behaviours which can have a positive impact on health and wellbeing, for example by preventing obesity and reducing the risk of developing conditions such as heart disease in adulthood. A large proportion of children and young people in the Glasgow area do not eat enough fruit and vegetables (only 13% eat the recommended 5 portions per day). A larger proportion (73%) meets the recommendation of being active for more than 60 minutes each day. The proportions in the Glasgow area are similar to Scotland as a whole.

Active travel – modes of transport that also involve physical activity, such as walking or cycling – provide a means of children and young people getting regular exercise. The majority of primary school children and just under half of secondary schoolchildren in Glasgow actively travel to school. This proportion is lower than in other major Scottish cities, but compares favourably to other local authorities in the Glasgow and Clyde Valley area.

This section also includes information on teenage pregnancy. Whilst for some teenage girls pregnancy and parenthood can be a positive decision, for others the pregnancy will be unplanned and could have negative consequences. Teenage pregnancy is associated with socioeconomic deprivation, with higher rates in more deprived areas. Scotland has a high teenage pregnancy rate compared to other countries in Europe so reducing this rate has been a target for national and local government. The rate of teenage pregnancy has fallen slightly across Scotland, including in Glasgow, in recent years. However, the rate in Glasgow is still higher than the Scottish average, and is the highest rate of all the Glasgow and Clyde Valley local authorities.

This section of Understanding Glasgow Children’s Indicators focuses on the important lifestyle behaviours described above, drawing comparisons between Glasgow and other cities and local authorities in Scotland. The information on smoking, alcohol, drugs, diet and exercise is drawn from surveys, where children and young people are asked about these behaviours.

The resources section contains a selection of links to related guidance, projects and publications. The targets and strategies section covers national and local policy. Notes on the data are also provided alongside links to the data sources. The lifestyle section of the main Understanding Glasgow site contains further information relevant to adults in Glasgow.