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Health-risk behaviors contribute to main causes of death among youth

2017 YRBS survey revealed that many high school students engage in risk behaviors associated with leading causes of death.


Devdiscourse News Desk 14 Jun 2018, 07:36 PM United States
  • Many high school students engage in risky sexual behaviors related to unwanted pregnancies and STIs, including HIV infection. (Image Credit: Twitter)

Risk behaviors for health contribute to the main causes of morbidity and mortality among youth and adults in the United States. In addition, there are significant health disparities between the demographic subgroups of young people defined by sex, race/ethnicity, and school class, and between the sexual minority and non-sexual minority youth, as per CDC report titled Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance — United States, 2017.

The demographics of major health behaviors at the national, state and local levels can be used to monitor the effectiveness of public health interventions designed to protect and promote the health of youth at the national, state and local levels. 

The results of the 2017 YRBS (Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance) national survey revealed that many high school students engage in risk behaviors associated with the leading causes of death among people aged 10 to 24 in the United States.

In the 30 days prior to the survey, 39.2 percent of high school students in the country (among the 62.8 percent who drove a car or other vehicle during the 30 days prior to the survey) had sent a text message or an email while driving, 29.8 percent reported current alcohol use, and 19.8 percent reported using marijuana. In addition, 14.0 percent of the students had taken painkillers without a prescription or in a different way than a doctor had told them to use one or more times in their life.

In the 12 months prior to the survey, 19.0 percent had been bullied on school property and 7.4 percent had attempted suicide. Many high school students engage in risky sexual behaviors related to unwanted pregnancies and STIs, including HIV infection.

Nationwide, 39.5 percent of students had sexual intercourse and 9.7 percent had sex with four or more people in their lives. 53.8 percent of currently active students reported that they or their partner used a condom the last time they had sex. The results of the national YSS 2017 also indicated that many high school students are involved in behaviors associated with chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes. 

Nationally, 8.8 percent of high school students had smoked cigarettes and 13.2 percent had used an electronic vapor product for at least 1 day in the 30 days prior to the survey. Forty-three percent played computer or video games or used a computer for three hours or more per day during an average school day for something that was not in school and 15.4 percent had not been physically active for at least 60 minutes on at least 1 day during the 7 days prior to the survey.

In addition, 14.8 percent were obese and 15.6 percent were overweight. The prevalence of most health-related behaviors varies by sex, race / ethnicity and, in particular, gender identity and sex of sexual contact. Specifically, the prevalence of many health risk behaviors is significantly higher among sexual minority students than among non-sexual minority students. However, the analysis of long-term temporal trends indicates that the general prevalence of most health risk behaviors has changed in the desired direction. 


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