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ADOLESCENTS

In 2002, individuals ages 13-19 accounted for roughly 10 percent of the U.S. population. (Adolescence may be defined differently by different health programs or for different health issues.) Generally, adolescents are a healthy population. Adolescence is a period during which many lifelong health habits are formed, such as diet, exercise, and the use of health care services. National data related to physical activity and overweight are presented in this section.

Adolescence is also a time of physical and emotional growth and exploration. As a result, many adolescents engage in risk-taking behaviors that may result in acute illnesses and infections, poor long-term health outcomes, and even disability and death. For example, adolescents may experiment with cigarettes and drugs, engage in sex, or be involved in motor vehicle crashes. This section features many health status indicators related to cigarette smoking, use of illicit drugs, adolescent mortality, injury, sexual intercourse, sexually transmitted diseases, and pregnancy. Many of these data are presented by age, gender, race and ethnicity: