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The health service (service sanitaire in French) was set up in September 2018 by the French government.1 This initiative enforces every health student to carry out a practical exercise of health promotion or primary prevention during their initial training, mainly towards children, adolescents and young adults. For this first year of application, 49 000 students (nurses, physiotherapists, doctors, pharmacists, dentists and midwives) completed their health service. Students from all other health disciplines will be involved from the 2019/2020 academic year.
The health service is a major component of the French national health strategy, whose objective is to develop health promotion, in line with the international guidance of the WHO. This prioritisation of prevention in youth is based on numerous data showing the deleterious impact of health behaviours adopted in adolescence and early adulthood. Indeed, evidence suggests that 17% of the total disease burden for all age groups may be associated with risky behaviour in adolescence. In France, young people’s health behaviours are a major challenge. According to an international survey in 2013/2014, in France, 32% of 15-year-olds consumed soft drinks daily (vs 16% in England and 11% in Canada); 90% reported less than 60 min of moderate to vigorous daily activity (current worldwide recommendation) (vs 86% in England and 78% in Canada); and 19% smoked at least once a week (vs 7% in England and 5% in Canada).2 In light of those numbers, France will probably have a high prevalence of chronic diseases in the next generation of adults. At this time, the prevalence of self-reported chronic diseases is 16% in French employees aged 25–64 years.3 In addition, the burden of non-communicable …
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