IJERPH, Vol. 18, Pages 12782: Health Behaviors of Austrian Secondary Level Pupils at a Glance: First Results of the From Science 2 School Study Focusing on Sports Linked to Mixed, Vegetarian, and Vegan Diets (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health)
Attaining healthy behaviors is essential at any life stage, particularly childhood, due to the strong link between children’s lifestyle and the subsequent adult state of health. This multidisciplinary study aimed to assess lifestyle behaviors of Austrian pupils of secondary schools I and II, with a specific focus on PA habits and diet types based on a large sample. In total, 8845 children/adolescents participated in the short standardized online survey on relevant health-related aspects nationwide. Valid and complete data was provided by 8799 pupils, including 1.14% of the eligible 771,525; 63% girls, 76% having a normal body weight, 70% attending secondary schools II, and more pupils/students living in rural vs. urban areas (3:1 ratio). Across the total sample, 11.8% were considered overweight/obese with a higher prevalence of overweight/obesity in boys than girls (15.5% vs. 9.6%) and urban vs. rural participants (13.9% vs. 10.8%; p < 0.05). The majority of participants (84.5%) reported a mixed diet, while 7.2% and 8.5% reported a vegan and vegetarian diet, respectively. Vegans reported a lesser alcohol intake (p < 0.05) compared to non-vegan pupils (no difference in dietary subgroups for smoking). Although overall PA and dietary behaviors suggest an appropriate health status among Austrian youth, attention should be focused on policies to increase healthy lifestyle habits at best through a dual approach to health permanently combining regular PA, sports, and exercise with a healthy diet, which would contribute to matching the current recommendations for improving individual and public health.