Youth risk behavior surveillance--United States, 1995.J Sch Health. 1996 Dec; 66(10):365-77.JS
Priority health-risk behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of mortality, morbidity, and social problems among youth and adults often are established during youth, extend into adulthood, and are interrelated. The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) monitors six categories of priority health-risk behaviors among youth and young adults: behaviors that contribute to unintentional and intentional injuries, tobacco use, alcohol and other drug use, sexual behaviors, unhealthy dietary behaviors, and physical inactivity. The YRBSS includes both a national school-based survey conducted by CDC and state and local school-based surveys conducted by state and local education agencies. This report summarizes results from the national survey, 35 state surveys, and 16 local surveys conducted among high school students from February through May 1995. In the United States, 72% of all deaths among school-age youth and young adults result from four causes: motor vehicle crashes, other unintentional injuries, homicide, and suicide. Results from the 1995 YRBSS suggest that many high school students practice behaviors that may increase their likelihood of death from these four causes: 21.7% had rarely or never used a safety belt, 38.8% had ridden with a driver who had been drinking alcohol during the 30 days preceding the survey, 20.0% had carried a weapon during the 30 days preceding the survey, 51.6% had drunk alcohol during the 30 days preceding the survey, 25.3% had used marijuana during the 30 days preceding the survey, and 8.7% had attempted suicide during the 12 months preceding the survey. Substantial morbidity and social problems among school-age youth and young adults also result from unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV infection. YRBSS results indicate that in 1995, 53.1% of high school students had experienced sexual intercourse, 45.6% of sexually active students had not used a condom at last sexual intercourse, and 2.0% had ever injected an illegal drug. Among adults, 65% of all deaths result from three causes: heart disease, cancer, and stroke. Most of the risk behaviors associated with these causes of death are initiated during adolescence. In 1995, 34.8% of high school students had smoked cigarettes during the 30 days preceding the survey, 39.5% had eaten more than two servings of foods typically high in fat content during the day preceding the survey, and only 25.4% had attended physical education class daily. YRBSS data are being used nationwide by health and education officials to improve national, state, and local policies and programs designed to reduce risks associated with the leading causes of mortality and morbidity. YRBSS data also are being used to measure progress toward achieving 21 national health objectives and one of eight National Education Goals.