Clustering of Youth Health Risk Behaviors


This new study published in PLOS One provides further evidence of the clustering of youth health risk behaviors. 

Unlike most previous investigations, this one was conducted of youth in the Middle East, but with similar results as those conduced in developed Western countries. 

The key findings included: 

(1) perceived peer norms for risk behaviors that are substantially higher than self-reported engagement in these behaviors;

(2) a correlation of a youth’s own behavior with these perceived peer norms; and

(3) a strong likelihood that youth who engage in one risk behavior also engage in others. 

Unfortunately, this study did not examine the role of protective behaviors, or the lack thereof, including physical activity, healthy nutrition, sleep and stress control in the clustering and influencing of clustering of youth risks. 

Nevertheless, this study, like similar others before it, indicate that youth across the world are likely to experience multiple, co-occurring health risk behaviors. 

As such, prevention professionals should use programs that address multiple risks, particularly including those that promote protective healthy habits, as well as their perceived norms. 

In addition, perceived norms that youth are engaged in pro-wellness and anti-risk behaviors should be targeted in educational and media campaigns to positively affect the whole health of youth and promote positive youth development. 

Read the research study: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0198435 

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