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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


FARIAS JUNIOR, José Cazuza de et al. Health risk behaviors among adolescents in the south of Brazil: prevalence and associated factors. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2009, vol.25, n.4, pp.344-352. ISSN 1680-5348.

OBJECTIVE:To determine the prevalence of health risk behaviors and to analyze factors associated with exposure to such behaviors among adolescents in the state of Santa Catarina in the south of Brazil. METHODS: Adolescents attending 240 high school classes at the state's public schools answered a questionnaire that collected demographics (sex, age, area of residence, and day versus night classes), social and economic data (working status and monthly family income), and information on health risk behaviors (insufficient levels of physical activity, low intake of fruits/vegetables, smoking, alcohol abuse, illicit drug use, involvement in physical fights, and irregular use of condoms). RESULTS: The completed questionnaires of 5 028 adolescents (2 984 females and 2 044 males), 15-19 years of age (mean = 17.0; standard deviation = 1.12), were considered valid. The most prevalent health risk behaviors were insufficient levels of physical activity (36.5%), low intake of fruits/vegetables (46.5%), and irregular use of condoms (38.3%). Approximately 7 of 10 adolescents (64.7%) were exposed to two or more risk behaviors simultaneously. The following risk subgroups were identified: male adolescents, adolescents from 18-19 years of age, living in urban areas, studying at night, and having a higher family income. CONCLUSIONS: The percentage of adolescents exposed to health risk behaviors was high, especially when simultaneous exposure to different behaviors was considered. These results can contribute to developing health promotion campaigns for the school setting that are specifically aimed at the risk subgroups identified.

Keywords : Adolescent behavior; risk-taking; students; life style; health; Brazil.

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