U.S. Teens Less Likely To Practice ‘Risky Behaviors,’ New CDC Report Finds
U.S. teenagers over the past 10 years have become less likely to practice some behaviors that "put them at risk of injury or disease," but other risky behaviors have "remained stable or increased," according to a report in the June 28 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Reuters Health reports. The report, based on data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System study, which surveyed about 13,600 high school students in grades 9 through 12 in 34 states and 18 major cities between 1991 and 2001, defined risky behaviors as "any activity that increases risk of bodily harm," which can include sexually transmitted diseases, injuries or cancer (McCook, Reuters Health, 6/27). The report found:
- The percentage of students who reported current cigarette use increased from 28% to 36% between 1991 and 1997, then decreased to 29% between 1997 and 2001. In addition, the percentage of students reporting frequent cigarette use increased from 13% to 17% between 1992 and 1997 and then decreased to 14% between 1997 and 2001.
- The rate of teens who said that they have used marijuana in their lifetime increased from 31% to 47% between 1991 and 1997 and then decreased to 42% by 2001. About 24% of teens in 2001 said that they had used marijuana in the past 30 days, an increase from 15% in 1991 (HHS release, 6/27).
- The percentage of teens who said that they have used cocaine in their lifetime increased from 5.9% in 1991 to 9.4% in 2001; about 4.2% of teens in 2001 said that they had used cocaine in the past 30 days, an increase from 1.7% in 1991.
- About 46% of teens in 2001 said that they had had sex in their lifetime, a decrease from 54% in 1991; 58% of sexually active teens in 2001 said that they had used a condom, an increase from 46% in 1991.
- The rate of teens who said that they rode with a driver who had consumed alcohol decreased from 39.9% in 1991 to 30.7% in 2001.
- The rate of teens who said that they participated in a daily physical education class decreased from 41.6% in 1991 to 32.2% in 2001 (Los Angeles Times, 6/28).
HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson said, "The youth in our high schools are increasingly ... making responsible choices that will protect themselves now and well into the future. At the same time, this report shows that too many teenagers continue to engage in risky behaviors." Thompson said that parents, educators and others "must work harder to prepare out children with the knowledge and confidence that they need to make wise decisions" (HHS release, 6/27). The report is available online. This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.