Teen smoking down, obesity is up

A recent survey conducted among Oklahoma youth has shown a significant decrease in underage smoking and driving distracted, but has also revealed a rise in obesity and video game use.

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is conducted every other year in public high schools throughout Oklahoma. It allows the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH), other related agencies and the general public to monitor priority health risk behaviors that can contribute to the leading causes of death, disability and social problems. The survey also assesses whether those behaviors have changed over time.

When comparing the data from 2003 through 2015, trends can be seen in Oklahoma youth’s health. The percentage of students who were obese has increased significantly from 11 percent in 2003 to 17 percent in 2015. There has been a continual increase in the percentage of students who spent three or more hours per school day playing video games or on the computer, from 19 percent in 2003 to a staggering 46 percent in 2015.

The percentage of students who were bullied on school property was at 20 percent and electronically bullying was 14 percent in 2015. This may also be reflective of the student’s resiliency in regards to mental health. The percentage of students who felt so sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more in a row has remained unchanged since 2003 at 29 percent. The percentage of students who had been forced into sexual acts has been consistent since 2013 at 9 percent.

Although Oklahoma continues to face some health challenges for teens that need continued focus, the state has also seen great health improvements in other areas:

  • The percentage of students who text or email while driving has decreased from 51 percent in 2013 to 44 percent in 2015.
  • There has been a continual decrease in the percentage of students who reported riding in a car driven by someone who had been drinking alcohol from 31 percent in 2003 to 1 percent in 2015.
  • The percentage of students who smoked cigarettes during the 30 days before the survey decreased significantly from 26 percent in 2003 to 13 percent in 2015. In 2015 the YRBS collected additional data on electronic vapor product use and found 24 percent of students had used electronic vapor products during the 30 days before the survey.
  • There was a significant decline in the percentage of students who had ever tried cigarette smoking from 2013 to 2015, as well as a decline in students who smoked cigarettes on one or more of the past 30 days prior to the survey.
  • There has been a decline since 2003 in students who reported having had sexual intercourse before and a decline in reports of having had sex with one or more people in the three months prior to the survey.