Some MN teens healthier than those in '90sby Lorna Benson, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota teens have experienced substantial declines in rates of sexual activity, smoking, binge drinking and other risky health behaviors since the 1990s.
The information is based on results from the Minnesota Student Survey, which is offered every three years to 6th, 9th and 12th graders.
"We've seen some good steady declines in binge drinking among ninth graders in particular," said Ed Ehlinger, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health.
Ehlinger said that while the survey results show many positive health trends, the results aren't quite as good for some racial and ethnic groups.
"When we look at populations of color and American Indians they still have higher rates than whites," Ehlinger said. "We need to reduce that, since we're now at a point where about a quarter of all public students are populations of color or American Indians and that number is rising."
For example, students of all races experienced significant declines in their smoking rates. But Ehlinger said the survey showed that 22 percent of American Indian ninth graders smoked in 2010 compared to 10 percent of white ninth graders.
Binge drinking among ninth grade students has declined for all racial groups since 1995, with Hispanic youth experiencing the sharpest decline. In 1995, 34 percent of Hispanic ninth graders reported binge drinking on the survey, compared to 18 percent in 2010. For white ninth graders the binge drinking rate during that same time period dropped from 20 percent to 9 percent.