SHAPES-PEI releases results from 2012-13 Provincial Student Health Profile

Back row: Honourable Alan McIsaac, Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development; Sterling Carruthers, School Health Specialist, PEI Department of Education and Early Childhood Development; Honourable Doug Currie, Minister of Health and Wellness Front row: Dr. Rosemary Herbert, Dean, School of Nursing; Dr. Jo-Ann MacDonald, associate professor, School of Nursing; Dr. Donna Murnaghan, adjunct professor, School of Nursing.
PEI is unique among provinces to have such comprehensive, locally relevant data on the health of its students.
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Posted on Monday, 10 February 2014

The University of Prince Edward Island, along with the PEI Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and the PEI Department of Health and Wellness, released today the results of the 2012-13 School Health Action Planning and Evaluation System (SHAPES-PEI) Provincial Student Health Profile. SHAPES-PEI gathers information from students in grades 5 through 12 about healthy eating, physical activity, mental fitness, and bullying. This is the third release of data since SHAPES-PEI began in 2008 and is the first time the team included bullying questions in its survey.

“After three rounds of data collection, we are better able to consider if there are notable trends in our data,” said Dr. Donna Murnaghan, principal investigator of SHAPES-PEI and adjunct professor of nursing at UPEI. “For example, the 2012 data, consistent with that from 2008 and 2010, show that close to two-thirds of students in PEI schools report having high levels of mental fitness, while there are a third of students who continue to struggle with their mental fitness. This is very concerning as our 2012 data also shows that 26 per cent of students reported being bullied and 9% reported bullying others in the last 30 days. Bullying has a profound effect on both a student’s mental fitness and the learning environment. Students who are bullied stay away from school; they are more likely to drop out, have difficulties concentrating, and often obtain lower levels of academic achievement.”

“The information collected through SHAPES reflects students’ health and wellness at school as well as their experiences in the home and in the community,” said Sterling Carruthers, School Health Specialist for the PEI Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. “It is important that we consider how a student’s mental fitness level, their experiences with bullying and how they feel about themselves, has an impact on other health behaviours such as healthy eating and physical activity.”

Highlights from the 2012-13 SHAPES-PEI survey include:

70 per cent of students report high levels of mental fitness (up from 66 per cent in 2008)
26 per cent of students reported being bullied (verbal, cyber, or physical) in the 30 days prior to the survey
70 per cent of students are considered to be in a healthy weight category for their age, however 27 per cent are still considered overweight or obese (unchanged from 2010)
36 per cent of students reported eating fruit or vegetables more than six times the day before the survey (down from 42 per cent in 2008)
18 per cent of students reported eating high fat/sugary/salty snacks or drinks more than seven times the day before the survey (down from 30 per cent in 2008).
“There is a strong connection between healthy students and achievement,” said Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development Alan McIsaac. “The information gathered through SHAPES allows our school communities to monitor health behaviours over time and engage in conversations with students, teachers, parents and community partners. Our priority is to ensure all students have access to the necessary programs and supports to succeed in school and in life.”

“The information from this report will help inform our department as we continue to develop programming and policies to help Islanders live healthier lives and a comprehensive wellness strategy for the province,” said Minister of Health and Wellness Doug Currie. “We look forward to working with UPEI and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development in the future to continue our efforts to improve the health of youth in PEI.”

“I cannot stress enough how important it is to have the cooperation and support of the provincial government in SHAPES-PEI,” said Dr. Murnaghan. “PEI is unique among provinces to have such comprehensive, locally relevant data on the health of its students. This is data that researchers can use, but it can also give schools and policy-makers information with which to make sound decisions.”

SHAPES-PEI is implemented in collaboration with the national Youth Smoking Survey (YSS), funded by Health Canada, which collects data from Island students on tobacco, drug, and alcohol use. The provincial tobacco, drug, and alcohol use results, collected by the YSS in conjunction with the SHAPES-PEI survey, is expected to be officially released by Health Canada in June 2014.

Full copies of the 2012-13 SHAPES-PEI Provincial Student Health Profile are available by request, or by visiting www.upei.ca/cshr/SHAPES or www.gov.pe.ca/healthyschoolcommunities.

For information:

Dave Atkinson, Research Communications, UPEI
(902) 620-5117, datkinson@upei.ca

Katie MacDonald, Communications, PEI Department of Education and Early Childhood Development
(902) 314-3996, katiemacdonald@gov.pe.ca

April Winchester, Communications, PEI Department of Health and Wellness
(902) 368-5512, awinchester@gov.pe.ca