Comparison of risk-behaviors among young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) versus high school students. A cross-sectional study
Background: Young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) have been identified as a vulnerable group at risk of poor social functioning, lower educational achievement, limited job opportunities and financial hardship. Being NEET has also been associated with increased risk of mental and physical health problems, but only a few studies have identified the prevalence of certain health-risk behaviors among NEET youth. The present study contributes to fill the existing knowledge gaps by investigating a broad range of risk behaviors in this vulnerable group compared to their high school peers.
Methods: This cross-sectional study included 96 NEET youth and 384 age and gender-matched high school students. A self-report questionnaire was used to assess differences in several risk behaviors, including substance use, low consumption of healthy food and high consumption of unhealthy food and beverages, low leisure time physical activity and low sleep duration. Logistic regression models were adjusted for gender, age and parental education.
Results: NEET youth had higher odds of using cannabis (OR 2.2; 95% CI 1.1-4.3), smokeless tobacco (1.7;1.0-2.8), smoking cigarettes (2.6;1.5-4.4), having an irregular consumption of breakfast (2.6;1.5-4.5), lunch (3.1;1.8-5.4) and dinner (1.9;1.1-3.2), having low consumption of vegetables (3.0;1.3-6.7), fruit and berries (5.3;1.6-18.1) and fish (3.0;1.8-5.1) and short sleep duration on weekends (2.6;1.4-4.9) than students. On the other hand, being NEET was associated with decreased odds of short sleep duration on weekdays compared to their high school peers (0.3;0.2-0.5). No differences in alcohol intoxication, consumption frequency of evening meals, consumption of unhealthy food items and beverages and leisure time physical activity were shown between these groups.
Conclusions: NEET youth have higher odds of using tobacco, short sleep duration on weekends and lower consumption of healthy food items including vegetables, fruit and fish compared to high school students. These results contribute to identify risk behaviors that are more prevalent among NEET youth compared to students and needs to be addressed through targeted intervention studies.
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