Data from Indiana youth health survey released

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Indiana State health officials today released data from a 2003 health survey of Indiana youth in grades 9 through 12 that assess whether teens are engaging in certain risk behaviors.

The six risk behaviors addressed in the 2003 Indiana Youth Risk Behavior Survey are tobacco use, alcohol and other drug use, unintentional injuries and violence, sexual behavior, weight and nutrition, and physical activity.

According to state health officials, some of the most significant findings in the 2003 Indiana Youth Risk Behavior Survey about risk behaviors among Indiana high school students are the following:

  • 25.6 percent of youth used cigarettes, compared to 21.9 percent nationally;
  • 28.9 percent of youth reported episodic heavy drinking, compared to 28.3 nationally, and 22.1 percent reported using marijuana, compared to 22.4 percent nationally;
  • 93.8 percent rarely or never used bicycle helmets, compared to 85.9 percent nationally;
  • 38 percent of youth said they were currently sexually active, compared to 34.3 percent nationally;
  • 11.5 percent were overweight and 14.2 percent were considered at risk of becoming overweight, by self-reported data; and
  • 31.9 percent did not participate in a sufficient amount of physical activity, and only 20.3 percent said that they ate fruits and vegetables the recommended five or more times per day.

"Many of these high risk behaviors are established during youth, and can lead to more dangerous problems that extend into adulthood," said Judith Ganser, M.D., medical director, Maternal and Children's Special Health Care Services at the State Department of Health. "However, they are preventable, and the data from this survey will be a great help in focusing the efforts of health professionals, law enforcement officials, educators and others who serve youth in Indiana to stop these behaviors."

This is the first year that weighted data has been available for Indiana, which means that the response rates for the survey were high enough to allow the data collected to be generalized for all Indiana high school students.

In the spring of 2003, the Indiana State Department of Health administered the Youth Risk Behavior Survey in high schools across the state. Forty-eight high schools and 1,674 students participated. The Youth Risk Behavior Survey is a national survey effort led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to monitor students' health risks and behaviors.

"This survey not only provides us with valuable data on youth risk behaviors, but it also gives us a tool for monitoring our adolescent health and mental health programs as well as progress in achieving Healthy People 2010 objectives," Dr. Ganser said.

Healthy People 2010 is a set of health objectives set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for the nation to achieve over the first decade of the new century. Examples of these objectives include reducing cigarette use and violence and increasing the percentage of adolescents who participate in daily school physical education classes.

Results from the 2003 Indiana Youth Risk Behavior Survey can be viewed on the Indiana State Department of Health's Web site at, by clicking on the link on the home page.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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