US Teens Are "World's Biggest Boozers"

US Teens Are "World's Biggest Boozers"

By Valerie Tejeda 04/26/12

American teens show the highest rates of drug and alcohol abuse and violent deaths, according to a global survey.

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US teens have the highest rates of alcohol and drug abuse in the developed world, according to a study on adolescents across the globe. Some 30% of American 13-to-15 year-old girls reported binge drinking in the last 30 daysmore than in any other country in the study. US teens also showed the highest rates of obesity, despite also being most likely to exercise. The studypublished in the British medical journal The Lancetalso found that American adolescents had the highest incidence of death by violence, with around 17 in 100,000 boys age 15 to 19 killed each year. This is more than four times the number in Israel and Denmark, which were tied for the second highest rate. Sexual activity, however, was higher in European teenswith Denmark and Greece showing the highest rates of sexually active teens aged 13 to 15.

Young people today are experiencing longer periods of education, and delays to marriage, which researchers say could lead to an extended adolescencethis could explain the higher exposure to teen-related risks including substance abuse and casual sex. Also, cognitive research on teens has shown them to be more affected by stress and excitement than adults. Many risky health behaviors emerge during adolescence, and may be thwarted if the proper steps are taken, according to lead author Professor George Patton, of the University of Melbourne in Australia. “Irrespective of region, most adolescent deaths are preventable and thus strongly justify worldwide action to enhance adolescent health,” says Patton. He claims future global health initiatives should focus more on teenagers “in view of their dynamic and challenging health profile, the contribution of adolescent health to the global burden of disease, and the important effect of adolescents and their health across the life course." There are some 1.8 billion adolescents aged between ten and 24 in the world today, comprising more than a quarter of the world's population.