Happy but unhealthy, younger generations shun fruit and books

Young Greeks are group-oriented, since they belong to small or larger circles of friends and maintain good relations with their families. Most young people feel happy, though a considerable proportion (23 percent) often feel lonely or have symptoms of depression. Generally, all young people are indifferent to their health. They smoke too much, drink regularly and use illegal substances – and rather high amounts of them. Ten percent of 15-year-olds smoke, while at the ages 18 to 29, this percentage climbs to 40 percent. Forty-four percent of students in higher education smoke. Thirty percent of young people drink regularly and 13 percent between the ages of 18 and 24 take drugs. Moreover, young Greeks do not drive safely, spurning seat belts and helmets. Road accidents are a leading cause of death in these age groups. The young eat unhealthily. Half of Greek school pupils consume soft drinks, sweets, chocolate, fried potatoes and chips on a daily basis. Ten to 15 percent consume cake, coffee, cakes or sweet pastries, hamburgers and sausages daily. School pupils that eat fruit daily are the exception. One in six school pupils diets to lose weight and only 27 percent of 15-year-olds exercise at least once a fortnight. Young people aged 17-30 eat no better. Only 40 percent of male students and 47.5 percent of female students eat fruit on a daily basis. They exercise (once a fortnight) more than adolescents and their coevals of the last decade (70 percent of men today, as compared to 55 percent of men in 1990, 49 percent of women today, as compared to 30 percent in 1990) but still less than their European counterparts. Neither are they particularly creative with their free time. Most spend it with friends (60 percent of junior and senior high school leavers, 64.6 percent university graduates, 52 percent postgraduate degree-holders). Fast-food outlets and cafeterias are their favorite haunts. Few young people regularly engage in sport, artistic activities or actively participate in social or political activities. Contrary to most people’s beliefs, significant proportions of young people are not couch potatoes. The younger age groups watch more television, but the older age groups listen to music. Unfortunately, the majority of young people read little. Only postgraduate students spend 19 percent of their time reading. School pupils and junior or senior high school leavers read least of all. Another surprise is the small proportion of young people who spend their free time surfing the Internet (5 percent). At the same time, almost all young people have a cell phone (94 percent), a high proportion own a computer (79 percent), over half have Internet access (55 percent), 44 percent own a DVD and 17 percent, satellite television. They view marriage positively (their most important values being the family, love and friendship) but disapprove of people living together. Love and emotional support is what they look for in marriage but they do not create their own families and households easily.

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