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For Immediate Release:
February 28, 2002

Sex, Drugs and Broccoli Highlighted in Peel Public Health's New Report on Child Health

(Brampton) - Sexual health, tobacco, alcohol and drug use, and obesity in Peel's children and youth are three of the 11 issues examined in the Peel Public Health's new report, Child Health Report 2002.

The report, which demonstrates Peel children enjoy relatively good health by provincial and national standards, uncovers some disturbing trends.

"Illicit drug use is on the rise, childhood obesity is escalating at an alarming rate and only two of every three sexually active teens always use a condom," says Dr. David McKeown, Medical Officer of Health for the Region of Peel.

In 2001, one-third of Ontario students in grades 7-13 used an illicit drug in the past year. Cannabis was the most commonly used illicit drug, followed by hallucinogens, non-medicinal stimulants, ecstacy and solvents. Cannabis use more than doubled, from 13 per cent of teens in 1993 to 29 per cent in 2001. Ecstasy use increased substantially, from 0.6 per cent in 1993 to six per cent in 2001.

In Peel, rates of gonorrhea and chlamydia - two of the most common sexually transmitted diseases - increased among teens between 1997 and 2000. In 1996/97, 31 per cent of Peel teens engaged in sexual intercourse in the past 12 months. In the same period, 28 per cent of Ontario teens had two or more sexual partners and only 63 per cent always used a condom.

Childhood obesity is rapidly becoming a significant health concern across Canada. As of 1996, 29 per cent of Canadian girls and 35 per cent of Canadian boys aged 7-13 years were overweight. "Children and youth are eating fewer fruits and vegetables, and exercising less," continues McKeown. Lack of physical activity and poor nutrition are important risk factors for obesity.

While the Child Health Report 2002 makes use of a wide variety of data, a number of important gaps in Peel-specific information are apparent. These gaps will need to be addressed in future if a comprehensive picture of child health is to emerge.

The Child Health Report 2002 is one of a series of reports highlighting key health issues and trends in the Region of Peel. The information in these reports is intended to help chart a course to better health for all residents of Peel.

The Region of Peel is a diverse community of nearly one million people, and is one of the largest public health regions in Canada.

For more information on the Child Health Report 2002, call Health Line Peel at 905-799-7700 or visit www.region.peel.on.ca

Dr. David McKeown
Medical Officer of Health
Region of Peel
905-791-7800, Ext. 2215

Communication Services, 10 Peel Centre Dr., Brampton, ON L6T 4B9 Phone: 905-791-7800, Fax: 905-791-0595 , e-mail



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