Health risk behavior assessment: nutrition, weight, and tobacco use in one urban seventh-grade class

Public Health Nurs. 2004 Mar-Apr;21(2):128-36. doi: 10.1111/j.0737-1209.2004.021206.x.


Health attitudes and behaviors develop in childhood and progress through adolescence into adulthood. To better understand the health risk behaviors being undertaken by a seventh-grade urban population, a study was conducted to identify what health risk behaviors a group of adolescents were participating in. The purpose of this study was to describe (1) the types of health risk behaviors being undertaken, (2) the frequency of their taking health risk behaviors, and (3) the age of initiation of the health risk behavior. The findings from this study indicate that this sample of 54, urban seventh graders suffers from multidimensional health needs. These students participated in a variety of health risk behaviors, as measured by the Youth Risk Behaviors Surveillance System Questionnaire. These students have begun to smoke regularly, which correlated with the use of alcohol. They rate their health as being good or excellent but rarely met the daily requirements for intake of fruits and vegetables. And, although they rate their weight as being acceptable, most are trying to lose weight. Additionally, differences between the boys and girls were noted in weight perception, with girls more likely than boys to use smoking as the primary method of weight control. Nursing is in an ideal position to provide effective primary care interventions and community health outreach to this adolescent population.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
  • Body Weight*
  • Child
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Philadelphia / epidemiology
  • Population Surveillance
  • Risk Assessment / methods*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Urban Health