Unhealthy dietary behaviors, physical inactivity, and tobacco use contribute to chronic disease and other health conditions, including obesity, diabetes, and asthma. These behaviors often are established during childhood and adolescence, extend into adulthood, are interrelated, and are preventable.
The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) monitors priority health-risk behaviors, general health status, and the prevalence of overweight and asthma among youth and young adults. YRBSS includes a national school-based survey conducted by CDC and state and local school-based surveys conducted by state and local education and health agencies. As a component of YRBSS, in 2005, communities participating in the Steps to a HealthierUS Cooperative Agreement Program (Steps Program) also conducted school-based surveys of students in grades 9-12 in their program intervention areas. These communities used a modified core questionnaire that asks about dietary behaviors, physical activity, and tobacco use and monitors the prevalence of overweight, diabetes, and asthma. This report summarizes results from surveys of students in 15 Steps communities that conducted surveys in 2005.
Results from the 15 Steps communities indicated that a substantial proportion of adolescents engaged in health risk behaviors associated with obesity, diabetes, and asthma. During 2005, across surveys, the percentage of high school students who had not eaten fruits and vegetables > or =5 times/day during the 7 days preceding the survey ranged from 80.1% to 85.2% (median: 83.1%), the percentage who were overweight ranged from 6.6% to 19.6% (median: 11.5%), the percentage who did not attend physical education classes daily ranged from 53.7% to 95.1% (median: 74.2%), and the percentage who had smoked cigarettes during the 30 days preceding the survey ranged from 9.2% to 26.5% (median: 17.1%).
Although the prevalence of many health-risk behaviors and health conditions varies across Steps communities, a substantial proportion of high school students engage in behaviors that place them at risk for chronic disease.
Steps Program staff at the national, tribal, state, and local levels will use YRBSS data for decision making, program planning, and enhancing technical assistance. These data will be used to focus existing programs on activities with the greatest promise of results, identify opportunities for strategic collaboration, and identify and disseminate lessons learned.