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June 9, 2000
Contact: Katie Baer
CDC, National Center for Chronic Disease 
Prevention &Health Promotion
(770) 4885131

Facts About: Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance (YRBS) United States, 1999

Too many high school students continue to practice behaviors that place them at risk for serious injury, sexually transmitted diseases (including HIV), and chronic diseases according to data released today from the 1999 YRBSS. The YRBSS is the most comprehensive source of data on the health risk behaviors of high school students. Todays report contains information about high school students nationwide, in 33 states, and 16 large cities.

Among high school students nationwide

Behaviors that contribute to unintentional and intentional injuries

  • 16% rarely or never wore a seat belt when riding in a car.
  • 85% of students who had ridden a bicycle during the 12 months preceding the survey rarely or never wore a helmet.
  • 38% were injured while playing sports during the 12 months preceding the survey.
  • 33% rode with a driver during the 30 days preceding the survey who had been drinking alcohol.
  • 17% carried a weapon during the 30 days preceding the survey.
  • 36% were in a physical fight during the 12 months preceding the survey.
  • 8% attempted suicide during the 12 months preceding the survey.

Tobacco Use

  • 35% smoked cigarettes during the 30 days preceding the survey.
  • 17% smoked cigarettes on 20 or more days during the 30 days preceding the survey.
  • 8% used smokeless tobacco during the 30 days preceding the survey.

Alcohol and other drug use

  • 50% had at least one drink of alcohol during the 30 days preceding the survey.
  • 32% had 5 or more drinks of alcohol on at least one occasion during the 30 days preceding the survey.
  • 27% used marijuana during the 30 days preceding the survey.
  • 4% used cocaine during the 30 days preceding the survey.
  • 15% used inhalants during their lifetime.
  • 9% used methamphetamines during their lifetime

Sexual behaviors

  • 50% had sexual intercourse during their lifetime.
  • 16% had sexual intercourse with 4 or more partners during their lifetime.
  • 36% had sexual intercourse during the past 3 months.
  • 58% of currently sexually active students used a condom during last intercourse.
  • 16% of currently sexually active students used birth control pills before last sexual intercourse.

Dietary behaviors

  • 10% were overweight (at or above the 95th percentile for body mass index by age and sex).
  • 16% were at risk for becoming overweight (at or above the 85th percentile and below the 95th percentile for body mass index by age and sex).
  • 24% ate 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables during the 7 days preceding the survey.
  • 5% took laxatives or vomited to lose weight during the 30 days preceding the survey.

Physical activity

  • 65% did vigorous physical activity for at least 20 minutes on 3 or more of the 7 days preceding the survey.
  • 27% did moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes on 5 or more of the 7 days preceding the survey.
  • 56% were enrolled in physical education class.
  • 29% attended physical education class daily.

Behaviors that show a significant decreasing trend between 1991 or 1993 and 1999 are the percentage of students who never or rarely wore a bicycle helmet, never or rarely used seatbelts, rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol, carried a gun, carried a weapon at school, participated in a physical fight, participated in a physical fight at school, ever had sexual intercourse, had sexual intercourse with 4+ partners, and attended physical education classes daily.

Behaviors that show a significant increasing trend between 1991 and 1999 are the percentage of students who reported lifetime marijuana use, current cocaine use, current condom use, receiving HIV prevention education, and participating in strengthening exercises

Considerable variation in the prevalence of risk behaviors occurs from state to state.

The following eight behaviors had a five-fold or greater variation among the states

Behaviors that contribute to unintentional and intentional injuries

  • Felt too unsafe to go to school 2% to 16%

Tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use

  • Smoked more than 10 cigarettes per day 1% to 11%
  • Current smokeless tobacco use 2% to 18%
  • Purchased cigarettes at a store 7% to 38%
  • Current cocaine use 1% to 8%
  • Smokeless tobacco use on school property 1% to 11%

Sexual behaviors

  • Initiated sexual intercourse before 13 years of age 3% to 16%

Physical activity

  • Attended physical education class daily 6% to 61%

Note: the full report is on-line at http://www2.cdc.gov/mmwr/mmwr_ss.html


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This page last reviewed Friday, June 9, 2000
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