School Leavers

The Drogheda School Leavers Cohort is a unique longitudinal study of all 652 young people who completed their secondary education in the Drogheda-area schools in 1993. The Boyne Research Institute constructed this unique-to-Ireland study of local youth as a way to track the changes in their lives during this time when Ireland social fabric is changing radically.

The first contact with the School Leavers was in 1996. Of the total number of 652, 328 completed a postal questionnaire. The results are detailed in the report called "1993 Drogheda School Leavers Survey: Report" [PDF, 228kb]. Some highlights:
  • Girls scored higher points on their Leaving Certificate Examination than did boys.
  • Although all these youth finished secondary school, only 37% of their mothers, and 42% of their fathers had gone beyond primary school.
  • Smoking was more common among women—36% of women smoked and 26% of men.
  • In contrast, most (95%) of them drank alcohol.
  • One-third had used illegal drugs.
The second contact with the School Leavers Cohort took place from 2003-2004. In 2003, 413 of the original 652 Drogheda 1993 school leavers responded. A description of the status of the group is in the report, “1993 Drogheda School Leavers—Ten Years On.”

Who were the 1993 Drogheda School Leavers in 2003/4?
  • Slightly more than half were female.
  • Their average age was 27.
  • The average height of the men was 70 inches.
  • The average height of the women was 65 inches.
  • The men weighed 176 lbs. on average.
  • The women weighed 139 lbs. on average.
  • Almost half, 47.4% earned more than €30,000.
  • 52.1% owned a house.
  • Since 1996, they had gained 10 pounds on average.

Risk Factors for Weight Gain

Ireland is now experiencing an epidemic of overweight, and this group of young people is no exception. Since the first survey, they have gained 10 pounds on average.

Factors that were linked with weight gain included eating two or more takeaway meals each week and drinking four or more drinks per night. School Leavers were less likely to gain weight if they drank wine (compared to other types of alcohol beverages), and ate two or more vegetables every day.

Here's what's possible:
  • If you drink, wine has a more beneficial effect on weight than other drinks.
  • Eating two or more vegetables every day is good for weight.
  • If you drink, drink fewer drinks per night.
  • If you do takeaways, cut back on the number you eat per week.
Prevention of weight gain is definitely possible. Weight loss is definitely possible.