Diet, Smoking--Teens Pile On the Risk Factors

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Associated Press

More than half the adolescents in a national survey had two or more risk factors that can lead to chronic disease, such as eating fatty foods and not getting enough exercise, government researchers say.

The survey by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Assn.

The study was based on a 1992-’93 survey of 6,321 adolescents ages 12 through 17. There are more than 20 million Americans in that age group.


The study listed five risk factors for chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer: smoking; a sedentary lifestyle; eating too few fruits and vegetables; eating too many high-fat foods; and heavy drinking, defined as five or more drinks in a row at least once during the preceding 30 days.

More than six of 10 adolescents reported two or more of the risk factors; one in 13 reported at least four of the risk factors.

The highest number of risk factors were found among youngsters who had poor, less-educated parents.

The researchers called on family doctors to counsel adolescents and their families about healthy habits and disease prevention.