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Teens smoking less, but other risky health behaviors persist

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released national data today regarding healthy habits and risky behaviors of U.S. teenagers. The 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey (YRBSS) reports improvements in rates of teen cigarette use but many other risky behaviors persist, including texting while driving, prescription drug misuse, and excess screen time.

The YRBSS is a conducted every two years among American high school students. The latest survey includes the anonymous responses of over 13,000 students across 42 states.

One of the areas measured by the YRBSS is taking prescription drugs without a doctor’s prescription. Overall, 18% of high school students reported taking a prescription drug like a painkiller or a stimulant medication often prescribed for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) without a doctor’s permission.

Sometimes students without ADHD take someone else’s stimulant medication, to try to stay awake or try to improve their scores on exams or assignments, even though taking unprescribed “study drugs” has not been shown to improve students’ grades. In a 2013 NPCH Report, only 1 in 100 parents said they think their teens have used misused ADHD medications. This number starkly contrasts to teens’ self-report of use, including both YRBSS report released today and a 2012 Monitoring the Future study finding 12% of high school seniors admitting to study drug use.

This infographic shows the perceptions of parents regarding their own teens’ study drug use compared with the numbers of teens who reported using study drugs. Read the full report: One in ten teens using “study drugs,” but are parents paying attention?

View full size image | See other infographics about children’s health

What do you think?
What are the top health concerns facing teenagers in your community? Share your thoughts in the comments or on Facebook and Twitter @MottNPCH.