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Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences
The article reviews the key behavioral risks the impact the health of students (smoking, alcohol and drug use, unhealthy eating, sedentary lifestyle, distress), deriving data from research carried out in 10 cities across Russia and Belarus. We consider the correlation between the value placed on health and place of residence, as well as various cultural and national features. A comparative analysis of data collected in various Russian and Belarusian cities shows that smoking is, on average, is just as widespread among students from the higher education institutions of Grodno and Minsk as among students from Moscow and other Russian regions. The same is true of alcohol, which is consumed by Belarusian students no less actively than by their Russian peers. Whereas a comparative analysis of data collected specifically in the capitals of the two partner republics reveals that the share of young men who take drugs is higher in Minsk than in Moscow by 0.7%. Grodno, however, shows more positive statistics than Russia. Among other subjects, this study has touched upon the scarcely researched aspects of students’ attitudes to eating and therapeutic exercise, their responses to emotional stress, as well as their values and concepts of success in life. Due to the negative trends that are typical of the student community’s views on health, it is obvious that some targeted effort is needed to support and improve the health of school-age children. A comparison of specific health issues among students from a number of cities has not revealed any significant differences. That said, the data does differ somewhat depending on the city status (capitals versus region and regional centers). In order to ensure better public health, both countries need to involve the mass media and popular youth leaders in developing and implement a consistent social policy, aimed at making it fashionable and desirable to pursue a healthy lifestyle, incompatible with the consumption of mind-altering substances. Other measures may include introducing healthy eating to higher education institutions; starting youth education courses on various wellness practices for better health and positive emotions and thinking; and developing the sport and leisure infrastructure.
health, students, behavioral risks, and value orientation