Problem/condition: 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.
Reporting period: February through May 1993.
Description of system: 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, dietary behaviors, and physical activity. The YRBSS includes 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, 24 state surveys, and nine local surveys conducted among high school students during February through May 1993.
Results and interpretation: In the United States, 72% of all deaths among school-age youth and young adults are from four causes: motor vehicle crashes, other unintentional injuries, homicide, and suicide. Results from the 1993 YRBSS suggest that many high school students practice behaviors that may increase their likelihood of death from these four causes: 19.1% rarely or never used a safety belt, 35.3% had ridden with a driver who had been drinking alcohol during the 30 days preceding the survey, 22.1% had carried a weapon during the 30 days preceding the survey, 80.9% ever drank alcohol, 32.8% ever used marijuana, and 8.6% had attempted suicide during the 12 months preceding the survey. Substantial morbidity and social problems among adolescents also result from unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. YRBSS results indicate that in 1993, 53.0% of high school students had had sexual intercourse, 52.8% of sexually active students had used a condom during last sexual intercourse, and 1.4% ever injected an illegal drug. Among adults, 67% of all deaths are from three causes: heart disease, cancer, and stroke. In 1993, many high school students practiced behaviors that may increase the risk for these health problems: 30.5% of high school students had smoked cigarettes during the 30 days preceding the survey, only 15.4% had eaten five or more servings of fruits and vegetables during the day preceding the survey, and only 34.3% had attended physical education class daily.
Actions taken: YRBSS data are being used nationwide by health and education officials to improve school health policies and programs designed to reduce risks associated with the leading causes of mortality and morbidity. At the national level, YRBSS data are being used to measure progress toward achieving 26 national health objectives and one of eight National Education Goals.