Findings from Adolescent Health Project Illustrate Increasing Health Risk from Teen Years to Adulthood

Jan 13, 2006

A study published in Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine offers new insights into race/ethnic disparities in leading health indicators. Data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health Project (Add Health) indicate increasing health risk and reduced access to health care from the teen years to the adult years for most US race/ethnic groups, with serious health implications for this generation. Relative rankings on 20 diverse health indicators (and patterns of change over time) vary by sex and race/ethnicity, causing disparities to fluctuate over time.

As researchers Kathie Harris (CPC Fellow), Penny Gordon-Larsen (CPC Fellow), Kim Chantala (CPC Researcher), and Dick Udry (CPC Fellow) report in "Longitudinal Trends in Race/Ethnic Disparities in Leading Health Indicators from Adolescence to Young Adulthood," (Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, 2006; 160:74-81) health risk increased from adolescence into young adulthood across all race/ethnic groups. Diet, inactivity, obesity, health care access, substance use, and reproductive health worsened with age. Perceived health, mental health, and exposure to violence improved with age. No single race/ethnic group consistently lead or faltered in health across all indicators.

Researchers used logistic and OLS regression models to assess longitudinal change in health indicators within race/ethnicity and change in health disparities over time. All models include SES controls and a time variable.

Media articles about the study's findings:

News & Observer Article:
Study Raises Alarm Over Youth Health: Researchers Say Trends Could Impair the Health of a Whole Generation (1/12/2006)
http://www.newsobserver.com/150/story/387639.html

UNC-CH issued a press release about the findings:
Health Seriously Declines, Disparities Increase as Youths Become Adults, Study Finds for First Time (1/12/2006)
http://www.unc.edu/news/archives/jan06/adolescents011006.htm

Additional information is also available on the Add Health web site at  http://www.cpc.unc.edu/projects/addhealth/findings?id=4823&func=viewSubmission&sid=1916.

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