Socioeconomic inequalities in adolescent health 2002–2010

an international comparison



An international team of researchers using data from the HBSC study, a WHO collaboration in 44 countries, found that rising income inequality in Europe and North America coincides with wider disparities in the mental and physical health of 11- to 15-year-olds.


Lead researcher of the Lancet paper, Professor Frank Elgar (McGill University), says the impact of childhood and adolescent social inequalities on adult health is being overlooked with potentially devastating consequences.

The study findings reveal that socioeconomic differences across multiple areas of adolescent mental and physical health increased between 2002 and 2010, with young people from the poorest socioeconomic groups more likely to be in worse health: being less physically active, with larger body mass index (BMI), and reporting more physical and psychological symptoms.


“Health inequalities in youths shape future inequities in education, employment, adult health, and life expectancy, and should be a focus of health policy,” said Frank Elgar.


Professor Candace Currie (University of St Andrews), International Co-ordinator of the HBSC study, said "This is a critical moment for policy attention to focus on the health of those in the second decade of life suffering health inequity. More than ever, prospects for their wellbeing during adolescence and into adulthood are being greatly challenged by the prevailing economic climate.”


Read full publication on adolescent health and health inequalities