Health & Academics Data & Statistics
This page provides data about the association between youth risk behaviors and students’ academic achievement. These data are collected through the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), administered by CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health.
The National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) monitors priority health-risk behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death, disability, and social problems among youth and adults in the United States. It is conducted every 2 years during the spring and provides data representative of 9th- through 12th-grade students in public and private schools throughout the nation.
In 2009, students completing the YRBS were asked, “During the past 12 months, how would you describe your grades in school?” and given seven response options (Mostly A’s, Mostly B’s, Mostly C’s, Mostly D’s, Mostly F’s, None of these grades, Not sure). In 2009, 31% of students received mostly A’s, 40% received mostly B’s, 19% received mostly C’s, 6% received mostly D’s or F’s, and 4% reported receiving none of these grades or not sure.
The survey question about students’ academic grades is included periodically in the National YRBS and was asked most recently in 2009. Therefore, these analyses represent the most current data available.
Association Between Health-Risk Behaviors and Academic Grades
Data from YRBSS show a negative association between health-risk behaviors and academic achievement among high school students, after controlling for sex, race/ethnicity, and grade level. This means that students with higher grades are less likely to engage in health-risk behaviors than their classmates with lower grades, and students who do not engage in health-risk behaviors receive higher grades than their classmates who do engage in health-risk behaviors.
These associations do not prove causation. Further research is needed to determine whether low grades lead to health-risk behaviors, health-risk behaviors lead to low grades, or some other factors lead to both of these problems.
Fact Sheets (2009 YRBS)
- Overview [pdf 120K]
- Alcohol & Other Drug Use Behaviors [pdf 146K]
- Physical Inactivity & Unhealthy Dietary Behaviors [pdf 142K]
- Sexual Risk Behaviors [pdf 1M]
- Tobacco Use Behaviors [pdf 102K]
- Unintentional Injury & Violence-Related Behaviors [pdf 131K]
Slide Sets (2009 YRBS)
- Alcohol & Other Drug Use Behaviors [ppt 1.3M - 21 slides] [pdf 119K]
- Physical Inactivity & Unhealthy Dietary Behaviors [ppt 694K – 9 slides] [pdf 248K]
- Sexual Risk Behaviors [ppt 601K – 7 slides] [pdf 137K]
- Tobacco Use Behaviors [ppt 763K – 11 slides] [pdf 178K]
- Unintentional Injury & Violence-Related Behaviors [pdf 1.1M – 20 slides] [pdf 287K]
Percentage of high school students who engaged in selected risk behaviors, by type of grades earned — United States, Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 2009
* This means that 12% of students with mostly A's carried a weapon and 37% of students with mostly D's or F's carried a weapon.