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Data Brief Series Gives Insight into Adolescent Health
Nearly one in three Cuyahoga County middle (29.1%) and high school (28.6%) students was overweight when surveyed during 2013 and 2014, according to a series of three data briefs newly released from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). These youth data briefs include Obesity and Overweight in Cuyahoga County, Dietary Behavior in Cuyahoga County, and Physical Activity in Cuyahoga County. The PRCHN conducts the YRBS survey annually in county middle schools (during even-numbered years) and high schools (during odd-numbered years).

Taken on their own, each data brief gives an in-depth look at a particular aspect of health. Jean Frank, Manager of School-Based Surveillance and Education, opted to publish the three together because “Diet, activity, and weight are connected behaviorally, emotionally, and cognitively. A finding about dietary behavior begs a question about physical activity. A BMI indicating obesity leads to questions about eating habits and sedentary behavior.”

One of the more surprising data findings was that approximately 2/3 of students do not eat breakfast daily and that this reality is documented in survey findings since 2008. This is particularly concerning given that county school districts increasingly provide free and reduced cost breakfast for students.

The data provide schools, health officials, and parents with a number of avenues to improve adolescent health. For instance, the prevalence of daily fruit and vegetable consumption was low among students attending Cleveland public high schools. Increasing fruit and/or vegetable consumption by just one serving each day would have a major impact on improving healthy eating behaviors for adolescents. While 16% of high school students reported no physical activity on any of the previous five days, nearly half (47%) met daily physical activity recommendations. Not surprisingly, more than half of middle and high school students who played on at least one sports team met physical activity recommendations. Frank and Erika Trapl, PhD, PRCHN Associate Director, note that more than 25% of those not playing on a sports team also met physical activity recommendations.

A positive trend of importance is that fewer students are drinking high sugar-content, high calorie pop or soda daily. In 2009 1 in 4 high school students drank at least one serving of pop every day. This behavior has decreased to 1 in 5 students in 2013.

Download your copy of Dietary Behavior in Cuyahoga County youth data brief.

Download your copy of Overweight and Obesity in Cuyahoga County youth data brief.

Download your copy of Physical Activity in Cuyahoga County youth data brief.
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