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Young People Practicing Unhealthy Habits

They show greatest increase in smoking, obesity and poor eating, study says

FRIDAY, Sept. 17, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Smoking, obesity and poor eating habits increased among young people in the United States in the 1990s, a trend that may lead to higher future rates of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and lung disease as that generation ages.

That warning comes from a study in the September/October issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion.

Researchers compared data from 1990 and 2000 collected as part of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a telephone survey conducted by state health departments and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than a third of white women and men aged 18 to 24 smoked in 2000, the study found.

"Not only is smoking increasing among selected young people, failure to quite smoking is also increasing in selected ethnic and racial groups," the study authors wrote.

They found that more than half of women and men aged 18 to 24 from all ethnic groups failed to quit smoking in 2000.

Obesity increased among every racial and ethnic group, but especially among young black women. In 2000, almost 20 percent of black women were obese by ages 18 to 24.

Smoking rates for black, white and Hispanic men and women aged 65 to 74 decreased from 1990 to 2000. Older black men and older Hispanic women had the largest increases in physical activity and older Hispanic women had the greatest decreases in smoking. Older Hispanic women and men and older black men had the largest increases in fruit and vegetable consumption.

Overall, young men and women aged 18 to 24 showed some of the most negative changes in health behavior between 1990 and 2000, the study found.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about the health risks of being overweight.

SOURCE: Center for the Advancement of Health, news release, September 2004
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