Image of the letter Fdolescence is one of the most rapid and complex transitions in the human life span, a time of accelerated growth and physical change second only to infancy. It is a time of self-discovery, emerging independence, and psychological maturation.1 Health behaviors adopted during this formative phase can shape an individualís future health status, life expectancy, and quality of life. Collectively, health behaviors can even shape the future economic development of our state.
Adolescence, unfortunately, is often an age group that finds itself overshadowed by the important health needs of young children and the increasing chronic health conditions of adults. The purpose of this report is to highlight the health issues of this population and illustrate the importance of both risk and protective factors associated with these issues.
In 2003, the Oklahoma State Department of Health took part in a national study of Youth Risk Behaviors in collaboration with the Oklahoma State Department of Education and CDC. The study used the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) to measure the prevalence of various self-reported risk-taking behaviors among high-school age adolescents.
The behaviors measured by this instrument include the following: behaviors that result in unintentional and intentional injuries, tobacco use, alcohol and other drug use sexual behaviors that result in HIV infection, other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and unintended pregnancies, dietary behaviors, and physical activity.
In Oklahoma, among people between the ages of 5 and 24 years, over 70 percent of all deaths are due to only four causes: motor vehicle crashes, other unintentional injuries, homicide and suicide. Among adults over age 25, over two-thirds of all deaths are due to only two causes: cardiovascular disease and cancer. The health risk behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of disease and death for adolescents and those that affect the health of adults are usually established during their adolescent years. Thus, it is imperative that we address those risk behaviors while they are the most amenable to change. The most cost effective and efficient way to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease and cancer in adults is to prevent their associated risk behaviors in adolescence.
To accomplish this, we must first know where we stand. What are Oklahomaís most prevalent risk behaviors? How does our state compare with the rest of the nation? What is the most efficient and effective course of action?

Motor Vehicle Injuries - Weapons/Violence
Mental Health - Tobacco Use
Substance Abuse - Sexual Behaviors
Overweight / Physical Activity and Nutrition

Introduction Banner Image

Introduction | Youth Risk Behaviors | Positive Youth Development
Call To Action | Recommendations | Healthy People 2010 Objectives
Board Of Health | State of the State's Health | Oklahoma State Department of Health

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State of the State's Health Interim Report 2003