2 min

Healthy food in a difficult life situation

Project promotes health competence of young people

Icon image counselling situation

In a joint project, an interdisciplinary team from Vienna and St. Pölten working in the fields of nutrition sciences, dietetics, physiotherapy, social work and psychology have developed measures to promote the health competence of young people who are not in education, employment or training. The project has developed a training course, Health Days for Young People and a beverage that serves as an ambassador for health information. Results of the project have now been published.

Detrimental health behaviour

Under the direction of St. Pölten UAS, the project "GAAS - Project for the Promotion of Health Competencies of Young People, Who Are Not in Education, Employment or Training" has dedicated itself to youth in difficult situations. "These young people belong to socially- disadvantaged groups and have detrimental health behaviours, which is why they should be given special attention. If health services are designed and tailored to the target group and the young people are themselves involved, they develop a keen interest in the subject of health", explained Elisabeth Höld, nutritionist at St. Pölten UAS and Head of the project.

Flyer in the form of a beverage

Together with the University of Vienna, the Mobile Youth Work Nordrand in St. Pölten as well as the Production School spacelab, the Study Programme Dietetics at St. Pölten UAS has developed in the project novel and successful approaches to support young people in making self-determined decisions that promote their health in everyday life.

The health-behaviour surveys carried out in the project and the experience collected have shown that the drinking behaviour of young people is often unfavourable, for example, through a high consumption of energy drinks and soft drinks. Therefore, together with young people a tea-based beverage was developed as a means of communication, which provides information concerning healthy drinking behaviour using youth-friendly language on the label.

Impact of living conditions on health in adolescence

Youth in NEET status (Not in Education, Employment or Training) often belong to socially- disadvantaged and/or educationally-deprived population groups and are increasingly affected by social exclusion and health inequality. There is only limited data on their health behaviour, and it shows health-related behaviour that is detrimental with regard to nutrition and physical activity.

Against this background, the data collected during the project from young people in NEET status living in eastern Austria was compared with those in the WHO study "Health Behaviour in School-aged Children" (WHO-HBSC study) and the Austrian recommendations for health-enhancing physical activity has been compared and published. It showed that the nutritional behaviour of young people in NEET status is more disadvantageous than that of WHO-HBSC students. The examined NEET-status young people are also much more likely to suffer from obesity than those in the WHO-HBSC study. The results underline the problematic interactions between socio-economic disadvantages and health, which can already be seen in adolescence.

Health Days and continuing education course

In the project, students of nutrition sciences, dietetics and physiotherapy, social workers as well as experts have together with young people designed Health Days at five locations in Vienna and Lower Austria in which health issues were taught in a playful manner.

In addition, St. Pölten UAS and the University of Vienna have developed a nutrition-specific course for people with basic psychosocial training such as social work and pedagogy.

Project GAAS – Promotion of Health Competencies of Young People, Who Are Not in Education, Employment or Training

The project is funded by the Fonds Gesundes Österreich (Healthy Austria Fund) and the Niederösterreichischen Gesundheits- und Sozialfonds – Initiative „Tut gut!“ (Lower Austrian Health and Social Fund Initiative "Tut gut!").  The project is a member of the Österreichischen Plattform Gesundheitskompetenz (Austrian Platform for Health Competence). It received first prize at the Vienna Health Prize in 2016 and was nominated for the Vorsorgepreis NÖ 2016. The project was coordinated by St. Pölten UAS, project partners were the University of Vienna, the Mobile Youth Work Nordrand in St. Pölten and the Production School spacelab.