5. What young people are doing or not doing for their well-being and health

5.3. Ambivalence of action: between risk to health and boost to well-being

What this is about

As is often the case in life, the exceptions prove the rule when it comes to young people’s health behaviour: although many young people try to avoid unhealthy or risky behaviour, they sometimes enjoy eating fast food or drinking at a party in the company of friends, occasionally even to excess. After the event, young people try to overcome their guilty conscience just as adults do. They convince themselves that it was not really so bad and that other people drank much more. They resolve to stop the harmful behaviour soon, for example to give up smoking soon. Or they plan to do something to compensate, such as take more exercise. Sometimes they just overdo it. Although it does them good in the moment, it is not healthy in the long term.

All people, including young people, adopt various strategies to handle these contradictions. In this section, we describe what these are and how young people explain their own behaviour.