Q. What are the most pressing issues in adolescent health today?
A. There are about 34 million adolescents ages 10-19 years. The most prevalent health risks facing adolescents today result from psychosocial, behavioral, and economic factors.
- Unintentional injury is the leading cause of death in adolescents, and accounts for more deaths than all other causes combined.
- Homicide is the second leading cause of death for adolescents ages 15-19 years and the third leading cause of death for adolescents ages 10-14 years. The homicide death rate for black older adolescents is eight times higher than for whites of the same age.
- Suicide is the third ranking killer of adolescents ages 15-19 years and the fourth leading killer of younger adolescents.
- About 3 million adolescents contract a sexually transmitted disease annually.
- More than 1 million adolescent U.S. females become pregnant every year, the highest rate of the world s developed countries.
- Among adolescents ages 12-17 years, 15.9 percent report illicit drug use and 41 percent report use of alcohol.
- One out of five teenagers will be smoking regularly by the time he or she finishes high school.
- An estimated one in every five adolescents ages 10-18 years has no health insurance.
For More Information.....
You can find out more information about adolescents and physical activity by contacting the following organizations:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion 1-888-CDC-4NRG
701 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004
Aerobics and Fitness Association of America
15250 Ventura Boulevard
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
Q. How can I as a parent or caregiver of an adolescent improve and encourage good health and lifestyle habits?
A. According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the following guidelines may be of help to you. The earlier these recommendations are implemented, the more likely children will adopt healthy behaviors as adolescents and as adults: Talk with your children about marijuana and other drugs and listen to their pressures and problems. Be clear and consistent in your "no-use" rules and messages.
Be aware of the connection between marijuana and other risky behaviors. Car crashes, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS, and injuries have all been linked to marijuana use.
Help your child deal with peer pressure. Practice ways for him or her to refuse drugs in ways that fit your child's personality.
Help children and adolescents learn the health, safety, and legal consequences of using marijuana and other drugs. Be sure they understand that marijuana can be as dangerous as other illegal drugs.
Model and encourage good health practices: serve balanced and nutritious meals at regular times and plan fun family activities. Encourage individual expression and creativity.
Be sure children have easy access to a wide range of appealing, drug-free, alternative activities and safe, monitored areas where they can gather; work with others in your community -- clubs, schools, churches, and neighborhood groups -- to sponsor and promote safe, healthy activities.
Discuss pro-use marijuana and drug images that youth see in the movies and on TV, and hear on CD's and on the radio. Ask what they think about these messages. Do they understand their purpose? Do they recognize that these messages do not teach the harmful effects of these products?
Be a positive role model. Do not engage in any illegal, unhealthy, or dangerous drug use practices. Provide an example consistent with your messages to youth.
Be tolerant of a child's individuality. Accept a child for his or her talents and personality. Provide love, support and encouragement to the child in your life.