BAR HARBOR — On several indicators of wellbeing, students at Mount Desert Island High School scored higher than their counterparts across the state on the 2019 Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey, a joint project of the Maine Department of Education and Maine Department of Health and Human Services.
But they lagged behind in some areas.
In the survey conducted last February, 25 percent of MDI High students reported being overweight or obese, compared to the statewide average of 31.3 percent.
Seventy-two percent of MDI students and 66.4 percent of all Maine high school students said they were at a healthy weight.
When asked if they ate fruit or vegetables at least five times a day, 19.4 MDI students answered yes, compared to the state average of 15.2 percent.
Asked if they drink at least one soda or other sugar-loaded beverage a day, 11.6 percent of MDI students said yes. The state average was 19.6 percent.
On questions of physical activity, MDI students and their peers around the state scored about the same. They also scored roughly the same on questions about depression, with 30.3 percent of MDI students and 32.1 percent of students statewide reporting that, in the past year, they had felt “so sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more in a row” that they stopped doing some usual activities.
MDI Dean of Students Ian Braun presented the findings of the student health survey to the high school board Feb. 10.
While some of the results indicated that MDI students were healthier, at least theoretically, than their peers around the state, other findings were less positive.
The 23.1 percent of MDI students who reported having been bullied on school property within the previous 12 months was almost identical to the statewide average. But it was up by about one-third over MDI’s number in 2017.
As for why that might be, Principal Matt Haney said, “I think people are recognizing what [bullying] is more and reporting it more.”
Slightly more MDI students (8.3 percent) than their peers statewide (7.1 percent) reported having smoked a cigarette on at least one day in the previous month. But in 2017, only 5.8 percent of MDI students answered yes to that question.
Among the biggest disparities between MDI students and high school students in the state overall was in the area of alcohol consumption. Asked if they had had a drink on at least one day in the previous month, 30.9 percent of MDI students said yes. The statewide average was 22.9 percent.
More than one-third of MDI students, 37.4 percent, reported having had at least five drinks within a couple of hours in the previous month. The average among Maine high school students was 32.7 percent.
MDI High administrators were particularly pleased with their students’ responses to questions about whether they feel valued and supported. Asked if they feel they matter to people in the community, 65.9 percent of MDI students said yes. The state average was 56.6 percent.
Asked if at least one of their teachers really cares about them and gives them help when they need it, 85.9 percent of MDI students said yes. The statewide average was 80.5 percent.
Braun told the school board that, whatever the results of the student health survey, “Unless you are at zero percent on some issues or 100 percent on some, you’ve still got work to do.”