- ATLANTA (Reuters) - Significant numbers of U.S. high school students
admitted in a nationwide survey that they got drunk, had sex, smoked, carried
weapons and practiced other risky behavior, U.S. health officials said
- "This report tells us that too many
youth practice behaviors that are unnecessarily placing them at risk for
serious injury, sexually transmitted diseases and other preventable health
problems," said Laura Kann, an epidemiologist with the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- "These risk behaviors should be
cause for great concern," Kann said.
- The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance
System survey questioned 16,262 students in Grades 9 to 12 from February
to May 1997.
- The survey found more than one-third
of high school students got drunk over the preceding month or rode with
a driver under the influence of alcohol. Almost one-fifth of students carried
a weapon, such as a gun, knife or club, in the preceding month.
- One-third of high school students had
sexual intercourse in the preceding three months, but only 56 percent used
a condom, the CDC said.
- Kann said that high school students were
engaged in risky sexual behavior, even though unintended pregnancies and
sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS, were epidemic among the
- The survey also found that one in five
students rarely or never used a seat belt while riding in a car. The CDC
said that 73 percent of deaths among young people aged 10 to 24 were caused
by motor vehicle crashes, unintentional injuries, murders and suicides.
- The survey, which did not give a margin
of error, found that 36.4 percent of high school students smoked cigarettes
in the preceding month and 16.7 percent smoked cigarettes at least 20 days
during the previous month. A higher percentage of students had at least
one drink or had gotten drunk.
- "This report indicates that slightly
over half of all high school students have had a drink of alcohol in the
past month and about a third had five or more drinks of alcohol on at least
one occasion during the past month," Kann said.
- The CDC survey also found some teenagers
were physically inactive or had poor nutrition, increasing their risk for
heart disease, stroke and cancer -- which cause two-thirds of all deaths
- Less than one-third ate the recommended
five or more daily servings of fruits and vegetables. The survey found
that 4.5 percent of students took laxatives or vomited to lose weight and
4.9 percent had taken diet pills in the preceding month.