April 23, 2014

Health study finds Nebraska kids wising up in some risky areas

A survey by state health officials finds Nebraska’s high school students are engaging in less risky behavior than in years past. That list includes things like using tobacco or alcohol and driving while impaired.

Dr. Joann Schaefer, the state’s chief medical officer, says some of the figures were the best in years.

“We are so pleased to see declines in tobacco and alcohol use among high school students in Nebraska,” Schaefer says. “It really shows our prevention efforts are working but there’s still much more work to do including addressing a lack of nutrition and physical activity.”

Cigarette smoking fell from 29% in 1991 to 15% in the latest survey, while alcohol use dropped from 53% to 27%. In 1991, those who admitted drinking and driving were 23%, and it fell to 7% in the latest round.

Schaefer says she’s particularly encouraged by the drop in the smoking numbers. You’re going to get so many health benefits out of that, including: decreasing cardiovascular disease, your risk of lung cancer and respiratory diseases,” she says.

The Youth Risk Behavioral Survey showed some of the greatest improvement since the survey began in 1991 include tobacco and alcohol use and alcohol-impaired driving.

On the downside, the survey found only about half of students get the recommended amount of physical activity and fewere than one in five (17%) consume fruits and vegetables five or more times per day. The study found half of students spend three or more hours on an average school day watching television, playing video games, or using the computer for non-school work.

Also, nearly half of students admitted they texted, talked on cell phones or e-mailed while driving.