Teen Health Behavior Poll Finds 'Encouraging' Trends

Article excerpt

Byline: Cheryl Wetzstein, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A national report card on youth health behavior finds solid improvements in most areas in the past 15 years, especially in the use of seat belts and in teen drinking, the federal government said yesterday.

Only 10 percent of 14,000 high school students said they "rarely or never" used a seat belt when riding in a vehicle, according to the 2005 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

This is a significant improvement from 1991, when nearly 26 percent of students said they rode in cars without buckling up.

Meanwhile, the percentage of students who said they drink alcoholic beverages fell significantly, from 51 percent in 1991 to 43 percent last year.

These results "are encouraging because they show us that persistent efforts to get young people to adopt healthier behaviors can achieve positive results," said Howell Wechsler, director of the CDC's Division of Adolescent and School Health.

The YRBS, issued every two years since 1991, gathers information from high school students.

From 1991 to 2005, improvements have been made in most categories: fewer teens have tried cigarettes or used alcohol, marijuana or cocaine; carried weapons; ridden with drivers who have been drinking; or considered or planned suicide. …