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Young people tell of effects of cold homes

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 13/02/2017

Young people living in cold homes are experiencing increased health problems and stress, an Otago University study has found.

The study involved a survey of 656 year-10 students from 17 schools nationwide.

Almost half (47 per cent) felt their home was sometimes cold during the winter.

A further 40 per cent felt their home was often or always cold, a figure that is almost double the number for adults who reported the same in a Statistics NZ survey.

More than two-thirds of respondents (70 per cent) had shivered inside at least once during winter.

The results also showed that more than one in eight young people (13.2 per cent) contribute towards the household bills.

Comments the researchers received include being stressed about homework because "it's too cold to do it, too cold to think".

Some people described having bedrooms that were cold enough that they avoid using them and sometimes sleep in the lounge.

The article in the journal Social Science and Medicine - Population Health was co-authored with pupils from Waiopehu College in Levin.

Dr Kimberley O'Sullivan says one goal of the study was the meaningful participation of young people as researchers in an issue that was important to them.

She says the study found that cold housing also has youth-specific outcomes like affecting social and family relationships

"Time and again our research finds that living in private rental housing increases the risk of experiencing living in cold homes and fuel poverty," he said.

"Young people are adding their voices to the calls for government to do more to improve the quality of housing and access to affordable heating."

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