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Key findings 2. The extent to which pupils adopt healthy lifestyles

Significant improvements in health could be made by people making relatively small changes to their lifestyles. For example, half of the current heart disease deaths and half of all cancers could be prevented by adopting a healthier lifestyle, particularly by reducing smoking, reducing obesity, increasing physical activity and eating more healthily.

South Gloucestershire’s Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2013-16

Healthy eating

2.1.  The survey found that the 79.4% of pupils ate breakfast usually or every morning. The number of pupils who eat breakfast declines as pupils get older, especially when they leave primary education. Girls consistently eat breakfast less frequently than boys, particularly in year 10 where only 41% of girls reported eating breakfast regularly compared to 73% of boys.

Breakfast habits, % of CYP who eat breakfast usually and every morning


2.2.  36.9% of pupils report having 3 or more snacks every day (e.g. sweets, chocolate, biscuits and crisps) and 22.3% report never eating snacks of once a week or less.


Snacking habits, % of CYP who eat snacks such as sweets, chocolate, biscuits and crisps 3 or more times every day


2.3.  The majority (54.4%) of secondary and 16 plus young people never drink energy drinks, 12.1% of secondary pupils drink energy drinks (such as red bull) every day.


Drinking habits, % of CYP who drink fizzy drinks (not water), energy drinks and water at least once a day or more


2.4.  85.8% of pupils in the survey said that the food provided at home enabled them to eat healthily usually or most of the time, this is very similar to regional data and consistent across all year groups.

School lunch experience

2.5.  The school lunch experience in both primary and secondary was favourable overall, with the exception of the length of time it takes them to queue for their lunch. Overall 41% of primary school pupils eat a school lunch most or every day. This falls to 25% of secondary aged pupils eating a school lunch most or every day and to below 10% of year 12 students.

65% of primary pupils eating a school lunch particularly liked the taste of their school lunches and (61%) how the food looks. However 30% found the time it takes for them to queue for their lunch unsatisfactory, only 37% felt it was good. There was a similar pattern at secondary level where 58% of pupils eating a school lunch particularly liked the taste of their school lunches. However 60% found the time it takes for them to queue for their lunch unsatisfactory, only 13% felt it was good.


School lunch experience at Primary level (year groups 4, 5 and 6)



School lunch experience at Secondary level (year groups 8, 10 and 12)


Sleep behaviour

2.6.  The average amount of sleep all pupils got the night before the survey was 8 hours and 23 minutes. Sleep experts recommend that children under 10 need at least ten hours of sleep a night and from the ages of 10 to 18 they need at least eight and half.



2.7  Pupils who reported it took them more than hour between going to bed and actually going to sleep were asked what they did before going to sleep. Most pupils reported that they were relaxing / just lying there or reading. However 18% of primary and 24% of secondary/Year 12’S were watching TV in their room and 15% of primary and 44% of secondary/Year 12’S were using the internet (e.g. gaming and/or social media) before they went to sleep.



Physical activity

2.8.  66% of pupils (n = 5,819) across all age groups had at least 4 hours of physical activity (including play) each week. 73% of pupils in secondary schools took part in physical activity for at least 4 hours a week, compared to 63% of primary pupils and 64% of Year 12’s.





2.9.  The survey found that the proportion of girls engaged in physical activity each week was lower than for boys overall; 60% of girls compared to 72% of boys do 4 or more hours of physical activity a week.

2.10.  58% of pupils overall felt they did enough exercise to keep them healthy quite often or always – a further 23% felt they did enough sometimes and 19% felt they did not do enough exercise to keep them healthy. There again was a difference in gender with 48% of girls reporting they felt they did enough exercise and 24% who did not do enough to keep them healthy compared to 67% of boys who felt they did enough and 15% who felt they did not do enough.

2.11. 32% of girls said there was something that would help them do more exercise compared to 26% of boys. The overall total for all pupils was 29%. Later on in the survey 25% of pupils cited “getting fit” as an area they wanted more knowledge in.


Word clouds showing the comments by pupils of suggestions to help them do more exercise

Boys (n=262)


Girls (n=310)



2.12.  Over 9 in 10 pupils (92%) have never smoked or only tried it once or twice. 98% of primary, 95% of secondary pupils and 69% year 12’s have reported they have never smoked or only tried once or twice.

2.13.  Of those who smoke regularly – the average is 7 cigarettes a week. 48% of the pupils who smoke, said they would like to stop smoking, 52% did not and 17% wanted help in stopping smoking.



Alcohol and Illegal Drug Use (Only secondary and year 12 pupils were asked about alcohol and drugs; the primary version of the survey did not have the following questions.

2.14.  74% of secondary pupils and year 12 reported that either they have never drunk alcohol or only tried alcohol once or twice. The differences in age and gender is shown in the graph below.



2.15.  Of the pupils who drink, the percentage reporting getting drunk regularly (weekly and daily) is 25% though this is only 5.8% of the population asked and is similar to neighbouring Counties.

2.16.  44% reported that they have never or only once or twice got drunk. 25% said they drunk frequently (weekly or more). By year 12, 17% of girls reported getting drunk frequently (weekly or more)



2.17.  There was a similar trend with regard to illegal drugs where more than 91% said they had never tried illegal drugs, although 22% have been offered them. 11% have been offered prescription drugs that were not their own (Pharming) and 9% had tried them.