Donna Murnaghan

Donna Murnaghan presents the 2012 SHAPES PEI report (CBC)

The latest SHAPES survey on P.E.I. was released Monday afternoon, and showed little improvement in student lifestyles since 2008.

The survey looked at the diet, physical activities and drug use of students in the province, from grades five to 12. The research was compiled by UPEI and the P.E.I. government. The team has been gathering data since 2008.

This is the third release of data from the on-going study. The survey found not much has changed since 2008, and that students are not doing as well as they could be.

  • 45 per cent are meeting national physical activity guidelines.
  • 27 per cent are overweight or obese.

Both those results were about the same as in 2008. However, student eating habits have changed.

Fewer reported eating high fat/sugary/salty snacks or drinks more than seven times the day before the survey – down to 18 per cent from 30 per cent – but fewer also reported eating fruit or vegetables more than six times the day before – down to 36 per cent from 42 per cent.

About 70 per cent of students reported a having a high level of mental fitness. They felt confident they can make the right choices, and they feel connected to their school, family, and friends, and believe in their own strength and abilities.

The UPEI researchers behind the survey said the fact there's still 30 per cent with some mental health issues is concerning.

Dr. Donna Murnaghan, principal investigator of SHAPES-PEI, connected this finding with the number of students reporting they had been bullied within the previous 30 days.

"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," Murnaghan said in a news release.

"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.”