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Wednesday, July 8, 1998 Published at 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK


'Teenagers ignore good health messages'

Teenagers ignore health promotion messages, says Dr Stuart

A leading GP has claimed that no amount of money pumped into health promotion will make teenagers sit up and change their bad ways.

Speaking at the British Medical Association's annual conference in Cardiff, Dr Michael Stuart from Hockley related the case of a teenage patient who had become pregnant on holiday because she had forgotten to pack contraceptive pills.

She and her boyfriend had stopped using condoms because they did not like them. The youngster, who was 18-20 weeks pregnant, wanted an abortion.

Dr Stuart said: "Most young people have all the education and knowledge about healthy lifestyles they need, but they chose to ignore it.

"The government putting money into health promotion will make no difference to morality patterns - all education does is to make them clever devils."

Representatives at the conference, however, disagreed with Dr Stuart's analysis and passed a motion calling for the government to invest resources in preventative health care for the young as a matter of urgency.

Urgent need

Proposing the motion, Dr Ramesh Mehta, a paediatrican from Bedford, said action was needed to reduce unwanted pregnancies and drug dependency among the young.

[ image: One in three begin smoking before they are 16]
One in three begin smoking before they are 16
He said that more than one in three regular smokers began smoking before the age of 16.

Dr Dorothy Ward, a surgeon from Glasgow, said the UK lagged behind many other countries in providing support for teenagers.

"Too often adolescents are seen as problems and not as people," she said.

She said countries that had compulsory sex education had far lower pregnancy rates than that in the UK.

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