Exploring the limitations of an adult-led agenda for understanding the health behaviours of young people

Wendy Wills, Jane Appleton, J. Magnusson, F. Brooks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
100 Downloads (Pure)


Public health and health promotion agendas are usually determined by
adults, even when the ‘target’ population is children and young people.
Adult-centred frameworks for health maintenance and the promotion of
well-being risk ignoring young people’s conceptualizations and experiences
of health and health-relevant behaviours. However, the current policy
emphasis in the UK and elsewhere apparently seeks to position young
people at the centre of their own health-related decisions. Building on the
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, this paper examines
and critiques policies relating to young people in UK, European and
worldwide contexts.
This paper then introduces data from two qualitative studies conducted
in the UK. These studies illustrate that young people’s definitions of health
often run counter to prevailing public health and health promotion
discourses. Young people do, however, often exhibit strategies for managing
their health, even though they are frequently restricted by the perceptions
that adults have about their lives and behaviour.
This paper argues that the new policy discourse is not yet being
systematically turned into action to give all young people a voice. This is
important to begin to understand young people’s perspectives about what
matters to them and what really influences their health behaviours.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244-252
JournalHealth & Social Care in the Community
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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