CDC releases report on teenage health behaviors

Every few years the Centers for Disease Control surveys this nation’s high school students about some of the risks they take on a regular basis, the kind of things parents suspect and fear the most. Now, the CDC released the results from its 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

The CDC’s Howell Wechsler CDC said, “It’s frustrating that while we’re making great progress in increasing seat belt use and reducing the number of kids who are driving while drinking, other safety issues pop up in their place, related to new technology.”

According to the Los Angeles Times “Booster Shots” blog, the report indicates that “only 8% of American high-schoolers own up to never wearing a seat belt — down from 26% in 1991. In the 30 days preceding their response to government survey-takers, 24% had gotten into the car with a driver who’d been drinking, and that’s down from 40% who had done so when asked in 1991.”

However, the AP reports, “In the survey, about 58 percent of high school seniors said they had texted or emailed while driving during the previous month. About 43 percent of high school juniors said they had done so.”

In a front-page story, the Boston Globe reports, “Roughly 44 states, including Massachusetts, have passed laws in the past couple of years that outlaw texting while driving for beginning teens, according to the CDC.”

Reuters quotes Wechsler as saying, “Texting or emailing while driving a car can have deadly consequences.” Wechsler adds, however, that with regard to the findings related to drunk driving and seatbelt use, “These trends show that we are making great progress.”

The AP reports that the survey also indicates “that 23 percent of high school students said they recently smoked marijuana, while 18 percent said they had puffed cigarettes.”

The Winston-Salem (NC) Journal reports that “the high-school smoking rate … has fallen from a high of 36.4 percent in 1997.”

Forbes reports that the CDC report also indicated that “31.1% of students played video or computer games, or otherwise used a computer for non-school reasons, for at least three hours on an average school day. That’s up from 24.9% in 2009.” Additionally, “32.4% of students watched TV three or more hours a day on an average school day, about flat with the 32.8% level reported in 2009.”

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