Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study


Age groups are formed on the basis of forms 5, 7 and 9. The majority of students of these forms are 11...12, 13...14 or 15...16 years old. However, the research must also include the students who are repeating the year. As a prerequisite, 90% of the students must be of ±6 months the mean age of their age group, the remaining 10% must not be over the mean age of more than 12 months. The specification into age groups of 11, 13 and 15 years is in a way conditional because the cleaned files include also 12, 14 and 16 year old students in a certain amount.

Body mass index (BMI) – is calculated on the basis of the following formula: BMI = weight (kg) / height (m)2. The age and gender-based cut-offs for thinness, overweight and obesity were developed by Cole TJ, Lobstein T. Extended international (IOTF) body mass index cut-offs for thinness, overweight and obesity. Pediatric obesity 2012; 7(4):284–294.

Economic situation – the basis for assessment is a conventional point score that is calculated on the basis of value of the family’s property provided by the child himself/herself (number of cars, computers, joint family holiday trips; does the child have his/her own room at home). The values of the score range from 0 to 9 (since 2013/2014 0 to 13). The economic situation is bad: score 0–3 (since 2013/2014 0–6); medium: score 4–5 5 (since 2013/2014 7–9); good: score 6–9 (since 2013/2014 10–13).

Physical activities – all activities that accelerate heart beat and make people gasp for a while. Going in for sports, physical activity lessons, playing with friends or walking to school may be considered as physical activities. Other examples of physical activities are also running, fast walk, skateboarding, bicycling, dancing, skating, swimming, playing football or basketball.

Region – living area; the 15 counties are grouped into five administrative regions:

Sleep duration on school days was estimated by calculating the difference between bedtime and wake time. Recommended sleep duration for 11-year-olds is 8–9,5 hours and 13–15-year-olds 7,5–9 hours.


Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study is an international survey conducted under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO) European Regional Committee. Estonia joined the survey research in the school year of 1993/1994, and has conducted eight surveys so far.

The main purpose of the research work is to collect objective cross-nation information of the adolescents' health behaviour, health and well-being in connection with their social background and deepen our knowledge of the formation of health behaviour models.

The target group of the research are adolescents aged 11, 13 and 15 years, that is the students of 5th, 7th and 9th forms of Estonian general education schools. As the survey is conducted every fourth year, using the same methodology, the results obtained enable to trace the changes concerning the health of the youth, their health risks and the social environment throughout the years.

General sampling was formed of students of the 5th, 7th and 9th forms of general education schools of the Republic of Estonia. The sampling was formed based on the Estonian Education Information System (EHIS). As for the HBSC research, the required number of respondents is 1550 students for each age group, whereas standard deviation is ±3%.

The students filled in the questionnaire in their classrooms during one lesson. An external questioner explained the students how to fill in the form and was present while the students were at the task. The absent students were excluded from the survey. The filled questionnaires were put into envelopes in the presence of the students, the teacher did not have the possibility to read them. In 2017/2018, a web-based questionnaire was used in about 20% of schools. In previous years only a paper-based questionnaire was used. Since 2021/22 only a web-based questionnaire has been used.

The tables present unweighted data for all years. (The National Institute for Health Development only has weighted data for 2005/2006 year's survey by the following criteria: sex, age, language of instruction, residence at the county level and the city/village. The data was weighed by the means of the Estonian Education Information System data.)


International home page of HBSC study


Leila Oja

National Institute for Health Development

Phone: +372 659 3962

E-mail: Leila.Oja[@]


Updated: 1.03.2023