"Flemish youngsters over concerned about their health"

Research from the World Health Organisation has revealed that one in three Flemish youngsters feel that they are too fat. Though they are often fed up with school and may feel lonely, most Flemish youngsters are happy.

The WHO quizzed youngsters between the ages of 11 and 15 in 39 different countries. They were asked questions about their life style, the image they had of themselves and their health. The survey also shows that Flemish youngsters eat less fruit than their peers and also drink more alcohol than their peers abroad. Nearly half of all Flemish youngsters consume alcohol before the age of 13.

The researchers say that one in three Flemish girls think they are too fat because they suffer from low esteem. In reality only one in ten is really over weight. Flemish youngsters also have numerous physical complaints, though some are purely in their imagination. Only teenagers in Scotland, Wales and Hungary are more concerned about their health.

The WHO believes that Flemish youngsters feel unhealthier than their peers abroad is because they have too little contact with their parents. One in four youngsters experience difficulty in talking with their mother. The figure for Flemish dads is one in two. Frequent use of social media among Flemish youngsters may also be a contributory factor.

The researchers say that youngsters from the least prosperous backgrounds give the greatest cause for concern. Anne Hublet of Ghent University: "They eat less fruit, don't eat breakfast as much and drink more soft drinks. These are factors that can influence health at a later age."

The average Flemish youngster is satisfied about life in general. In this respect we are world leaders.