Source: The Mercury, 13 January, 1998, p.8
MANY young women are doing things that are bad for them but believe they can beat the risks, researchers engaged in the biggest study of Australian women's health said yesterday. Binge drinking, smoking, crash dieting and unsafe sex were on the rise among young women Women's Health Australia has initially found. The unhealthy activity was a reaction to stress caused mainly by money, career and study worries. Project manager Wendy Brown admitted yesterday to being shocked by the first findings of the study, which began last year and will track 42,000 Australian women for the next 19 years to uncover hidden health trends. Dr Brown said significant numbers of women aged 18 to 23 appeared to have abandoned notions of healthy living in the face of increasingly complicated, stressful lifestyles. The study has already revealed that a third of young women are underweight, and that fewer than 2% are happy with their bodies. Almost one in five binge drinks at least once a week and 40% do little or no exercise. Only one quarter use condoms regularly and one third smoke. About half the 18 to 23-year- olds admitted to being stressed. "We thought the younger ones would say they worried about personal relationships, but they actually listed work, money and studies as their big problems," Dr Brown said. "It's going to be very interesting over the years to see whether these women ever lose that stress or whether we are going to see a range of new female illnesses caused by a lifetime of stress." Younger women are far more stressed than their mothers and grandmothers. Women aged 45 to 59 and those older than 70 reported relatively low stress levels. Dr Brown said it appeared high numbers of younger women were doing things they knew were unhealthy but had convinced themselves they could beat the risks. Dr Brown said the finding that frightened her most was the incidence of smoking among young mothers. "We've found 42.4% of young married mothers are smoking and 54.1% of single mothers have the habit," she said. "That is a real concern. I'm certainly not trying to put any sort of blame on single mothers because it may be that stress drives them to smoke, but it raises some terrible health concerns."
Where to next?
Student Questions for this article
Teacher Discussion of this article
Index - Related articles
Index - Chance and Basic Probability
Main Index - Numeracy in the News