HealthDay News — Many high school students are engaged in health-risk behaviors, according to research published June 15 in the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Laura Kann, PhD, from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues examined data from the 2017 national school-based Youth Risk Behavior Survey for 121 health-related behaviors and or obesity, overweight, and asthma by demographic subgroups defined by sex, race/ethnicity, and school grade, and by sexual minority status. 

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The researchers found that many high school students were engaged in health-risk behaviors associated with the leading causes of death among persons aged 10 to 24 years. During the 30 days before the survey, 39.2, 29.8, and 19.8% of high school students nationwide had texted or e-mailed while driving, reported current alcohol use, and reported current marijuana use, respectively. Many high school students were engaged in sexual risk behaviors; 53.8% of currently sexually active students reported that they or their partner had used a condom during their last sexual intercourse. Many high school students were engaged in behaviors associated with chronic disease; 8.8% had smoked cigarettes and 13.2% had used an electronic vapor product on at least 1 day during the past 30 days.

“The health of our youth reflects the Nation’s well-being,” CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, MD, said in a statement. “In the past decade, there have been substantial improvements in the behaviors that put students most at risk for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases. However, we can’t yet declare success when so many young people are getting HIV and sexually transmitted diseases, and experiencing disturbingly high rates of substance use, violence, and suicide.”

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