N° 82 | October 2013

« BEHAVIORAL RISK FACTORS IN ADOLESCENTS »

Editorial

Adolescence is a critical time for growth and development. Historically, adolescents generally have very poor diets and low levels of physical activity, which have been associated with increased risk of overweight/obesity and other health problems during adolescence and through adulthood. Healthy behaviors during adolescence can set the stage for positive life-long behaviors and the prevention of chronic disease.

The articles included provide important insights on the current state of health behaviors among youth in Europe and Brazil. Articles by Filho et al. and Santaliestra-Pasias et al. showed a clustering of unhealthy behaviors: those youth with high levels of sedentary behaviors also reported low levels of fruit and vegetable consumption. At the same time, Filho et al. reported better-than-expected consumption of fruit and vegetables and Levin et al. indicated that the prevalence of health behaviors among some youth may actually be improving.

However, there is still an ongoing need to support healthy behaviors at this critical life stage; health disparities for these behaviors are persistent as shown by Levin et al. The highest socio-economic youth in this study tended to report the healthiest behaviors over time. Authors argued that interventions targeting the vulnerable youth are necessary. Public health approaches are needed to create environments where the healthy choice is the easy choice; if possible, programs should address eating and physical activity together.

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