The Health Status of Children and Adolescents in Spain
Mentor:Graciela Boruszko, Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies, Pepperdine University
When focusing on the health of a particular country or region, there exists a plethora of information concerning adults and older individuals, as they are the portion of the population that determines the services and resources that are needed immediately in the community. While the present concerns of the community are important, governments and healthcare organizations must also keep in mind that the youth will be dictating the health service needs of the future. As such, children and adolescents are a powerful indicator of the direction of the health of a country or region. The literature regarding the health and wellness of the youth population of Spain was examined through three paradigms- nutrition, physical activity, and mental health. Intervention programs regarding both nutrition and physical fitness were made to accommodate and include the entire family; it was found that combination programs addressing both nutrition and fitness were more effective at lowering youth obesity rates and increasing their consumption of nutritious food than programs that only addressed either nutrition or fitness. Information regarding the mental health issues of the youth population was gathered through national and regional surveys of both children and their parents. The data collected raises many new issues regarding childhood and adolescent mental illness, which still today remains a rather taboo subject in Spanish culture. After a thorough evaluation of the literature regarding the health challenges facing youth in Spain, it was determined that although much progress has been made in recent years towards a healthier lifestyle, some disparities still exist between the actual population and the national and international health standards that future research and intervention programs will endeavor to correct.