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What's This About?
In this section, we offer selected statistics regarding U.S. youth, together with a few statistics focused on New York State. Links and endnotes will connect you to rich resources for further information. These pages are updated periodically.
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Health for the World's Adolescents

This World Health Organization report provides an overview of global progress made in understanding and addressing adolescent health.


Demographics: Health

For adolescent sexual health statistics, see Demographics: Sexual Health.

Access to Health Care

Of all children age 0-17, 95% had health insurance at some point during 2014 [1]. In that year, 5% (218,800) of New York State children 18 and under were without health insurance [2]. Through public and private insurance, adolescents have a high rate of coverage (91% in 2012) [3]. Insurance coverage and doctor visits are increasing, especially among black and Hispanic adolescents [4]. However, disparities remain: Latino youth, for example, are less likely to be insured (16% uninsured in 2012) [3].

Most adolescents (95%) have a "usual source of care" such as a physician or HMO [4]. However, many clinicians report feeling ill-equipped to help youth who are dealing with issues such as substance abuse or pregnancy. Assurance of confidentiality is especially important to teens, who may not give complete information to health care providers or follow up appropriately after a diagnosis unless they feel that their privacy is secure. School-based health centers and Title X family planning centers are important sources of care for adolescents [5].

Most adolescents age 10-17 visited a dentist in 2012 (87%); however, dental care drops as adolescents become young adults [4]. In 2012, 7% of adolescents did not receive needed dental care [4]. Healthy Habits: High School Students (2015)

Dietary Behaviors

Of all children age 0-17, 21% experienced food insecurity at times during 2013 [1]. In the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 28% of high school students reported eating vegetables at least twice a day, while 32% reported eating fruits or drinking 100% fruit juice two or more times a day [6].

A large, nationally representative interview study of adolescents age 13-18 found that in a single year, about one in 60 teens have symptoms of an eating disorder [7].

In 2012, 21% of adolescents age 12 to 19 were obese, up from 5% in 1980. In the same period, one out of three adolescents and children was overweight or obese [8].

Physical Activity and Sleep

Half (49%) of high school students reported a high level of physical activity in 2015 (at least 60 minutes a day for five or more days in the week before the survey). There is a significant gender disparity: 39% of girls and 58% of boys reported this level of activity. Most youth (58%) play on at least one sports team. The great majority (86%) of high school students reported being physically active some of the time during the week before the survey (83% of girls and 89% of boys) [6].

Only 27% of high school students reported having at least eight hours of sleep on a typical school night. Ninth grade students were more likely to have eight hours of sleep than seniors at 34% and 22%, respectively [6].

Mental Health

While most adolescents experience good mental health, many youth struggle with mental health symptoms at some point. A large, nationally representative study published in 2010 found that 50% of youth age 13-18 report having had mental health symptoms, with a lifetime prevalence of 22% for symptoms that are classified as severe [9]. The same study found that anxiety disorders are experienced by 32% of this age group, behavior disorders by 19%, mood disorders by 14%, and substance use disorders by 11%. For more statistics, see Demographics: Substance Use.

Across cultures, the majority of adolescents report positive life satisfaction [10]. In much of the world, boys rate their life satisfaction more highly than girls, according to a 2001/2002 survey by the World Health Organization [11]. Research has linked adolescent happiness with positive family relationships (including an authoritative and supportive parenting style and communication between parent and child), being extraverted and social, having a best friend, playing sports, school safety, and believing one is doing well at school [12].

In 2015, 30% of all high school students reported feeling sad or hopeless almost every day for two or more weeks in a row in the last year (an indicator of clinical depression). More girls than boys reported feeling sad or hopeless (40% and 20%, respectively); half of multiple-race (51%) and Latina (47%) girls noted this level of depression [6]. Between age 12 and 15, major depressive episodes triple among girls [13]. Eleven percent of teens age 16-17 have a major depressive episode in the course of a year, and nearly three quarters of these are girls [14]. Regardless of economic status, most adolescents who suffer major depressive episode go without treatment [15].

The number of high school students who report serious thoughts of suicide dropped dramatically -- from 29% in 1991 to 14% in 2009 [16] -- and then increased to 18% by 2015 [6]. In 2015, 9% of students reported suicide attempts [6].

  • American Indian/Alaska Native (15%), multiple-race (15%), Hispanic (11%) and black-NH (9%) students were more likely than white-NH (7%) students to have attempted suicide [6].
  • Historically, boys have completed suicide more often than girls [16].
  • Students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual (LGB), and those who are unsure of/questioning their sexual identity are more likely to consider, make a plan, and attempt suicide than heterosexual youth. For example, 43% of LGB students seriously considered suicide and 29% attempted suicide [17].

Injury, Violence, and Mortality


Mortality: Age 15-19 (2014)Unintentional injury (39%) is the leading cause of death for adolescents age 15-19, followed by suicide (19%), homicide (15%), and cancer (6%) [18]. Males have a much higher mortality rate than females in this age group. Death by unintentional injury stems largely from motor vehicle crashes and poisoning, which includes prescription drug overdose [19].

Among adolescents and young adults age 10-24, males are far more likely than females to become homicide victims (86% vs. 14% in 2010) [20]. In this age group, gun violence was the cause of death in 83% of cases. Homicide is the leading cause of death for African Americans age 10-24.


The number of youth who report having been in at least one physical fight in the past year decreased from 43% in 1991 to 23% in 2015 [21]. Among students who are questioning their sexual identity, the number is much higher (35%) [17].


In 2015, 16% of high school students reported having carried a weapon on at least one of the last 30 days [6]. The number is lower in New York State: 13% for the entire state and 8% for New York City (see CDC Youth Online interactive tables for breakdown by location) [22]. In NYC, multiple-race males were much more likely to have carried a weapon than black or Latino males (20%, 12%, 11%, and 8%, respectively) [22].

Violent Crime

The juvenile arrest rate declined 37% between 2003 and 2012, reaching its lowest point since 1980. Murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault all declined in 2012, as did all property crimes other than arson [23].

In 2015, 10% of female high school students and 3% of male students reported (on an anonymous survey) that they had been raped at some point in their lives [6]. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth, as well as students questioning their sexual orientation, are more likely to have been raped than heterosexual youth (18% of LGB students, 12% questioning students, 5% heterosexual students) [17].

Dating Violence

Among high school students who dated, 11% experienced unwanted sexual contact from a dating partner in 2015. In addition, 12% of girls and 7% of boys who dated reported that they were purposely hit, slammed into something, or injured with an object or weapon by a dating partner in the 12 months preceding the survey [24].

Dating violence is more prevalent among high school students who are questioning their sexual identity and LGB students. Among those who dated, about 23% of questioning and LGB students had experienced sexual dating violence. In that same group, one in four questioning students and 18% of LGB students had been intentionally hit, slammed into something, or injured with an object or weapon by a dating partner [17].

Among teens (13-18) in relationships, 47% report having experienced controlling behaviors by a romantic partner [25].


[1]   Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. (2016). America's children: Key national indicators of well-being, 2016. Retrieved August 31, 2016, from
[2]   Kaiser Family Foundation. (n. d.). State health facts: Health insurance coverage of children 0-18: New York. Retrieved August 31, 2016, from
[3]   Park, M. J., Brindis, C. D., Vaughn, B., Barry, M., Guzman, L., & Berger, A. (2013, October). Adolescent health highlight: Health care services. Retrieved August 31, 2016, from the Child Trends website:

[4]   Park, M. J., Scott, J. T., Adams, S. H., Brindis, C. D., & Irwin Jr., C. E. (2014). Adolescent and young adult health in the United States in the past decade: Little improvement and young adults remain worse off than adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health, 55(1). doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2014.04.003
[5]   Cullen, E. & Salganicoff, A. (2011, October). Adolescent health: Coverage and access to care. Women's issue brief. Retrieved August 31, 2016, from Kaiser Family Foundation website:
[6]   Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). Youth Online: High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). Retrieved August 31, 2016 from
[7]   Psych Central. (2011). Prevalence of eating disorders among teens. Retrieved August 31, 2016, from

[8]   Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014, February). Adolescent and school health: Childhood obesity facts. Retrieved August 31, 2016, from
[9]   Merikangas, K. R., He, J., Burstein, M., Swanson, S. A., Avenevoli, S., Cui, L., . . . Swendsen, J. (2010). Lifetime prevalence of mental disorders in U.S. adolescents: Results from the National Comorbidity Survey replication - Adolescent supplement (NCS-A). Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 49(10), 980-989. doi:10.1016/j.jaac.2010.05.017
[10]   Proctor, C. L., Linley, P. A., & Maltby, J. (2009). Youth life satisfaction: A review of the literature. Journal of Happiness Studies, 10(5), 583-630. doi:10.1007/s10902-008-9110-9
[11]   UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre. (2007). Child poverty in perspective: An overview of child well-being in rich countries. Innocenti Report Card 7. Retrieved August 31, 2016, from
[12]   van de Wetering, E. J., van Exel, N. J. A., & Brouwer, W. B. F. (2010). Piecing the jigsaw puzzle of adolescent happiness. Journal of Economic Psychology, 31(6), 923-935. doi:10.1016/j.joep.2010.08.004
[13]   Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2012, July 19). Depression triples between the ages of 12 and 15 among adolescent girls. Data Spotlight. Retrieved August 31, 2016, from

[14]   Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (May 6, 2014). The CBHSQ Report: Serious mental health challenges among older adolescents and young adults. Retrieved August 31, 2016, from

[15]   Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2012, January 31). Major depressive episode among adolescents living in poverty. Data Spotlight. Retrieved August 31, 2016, from

[16]   Child Trends. (2014, August). Suicidal teens. Retrieved August 31, 2016, from
[17]   Kann, L., Olsen, E. O., McManus, T., et al. (2016). Sexual identity, sex of sexual contacts, and health-related behaviors among students in grades 9-12 - United States and selected sites, 2015. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Surveillance Summary 65(No. SS-9). Retrieved from CDC website:
[18]   National Center for Health Statistics. (2015, December). LCWK1. Deaths, percent of total deaths, and death rates for the 15 leading causes of death in 5-year age groups, by race and sex: United States, 1999-2014. Retrieved August 31, 2016, from
[19]   U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau. (2013). Child health USA 2012: Adolescent mortality. Retrieved August 31, 2016, from
[20]   Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). Youth violence: Facts at a glance 2012. Retrieved August 31, 2016, from
[21]   Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Trends in the prevalence of behaviors that contribute to violence. Retrieved August 31, 2016, from

[22]   Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n. d.). Youth online: High School YRBS: 2015 Results [see Unintentional Injuries and Violence, Carried a weapon; filter locations by States and Local]. Retrieved August 31, 2016, from

[23]   Puzzanchera, C. (2014, December). Juvenile arrests 2012. Juvenile Offenders and Victims: National Report Series Bulletin. Retrieved August 31, 2016, from Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention website:
[24]   Kann, L., McManus, T., Harris, W. A., et al. (2016, June 10). Youth risk behavior surveillance - United States, 2015. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 65(6). Retrieved August 31, 2016, from
[25]   New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence. (2011). Respect love, love respect: Resources: Dating abuse fact sheet. Retrieved August 31, 2016, from
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