There’s good news in a recently released study of teen health in Fulton County.
Alcohol use: down. Tobacco: mostly down. Drug use: marijuana up slightly or holding steady, other drug use down. Students classifi ed as obese: down slightly. Teen birth rate: down.
“It’s something to be proud of,” said Mike Oricko, Fulton County health commissioner.
“There are a lot of agencies, organizations, and individuals who are working very hard, working with families and youth in Fulton County to bring the numbers about,” Oricko said.
Lou Moody, the health assessment project director, said there was a dramatic improvement in youth health factors between 2005 and 2008.
Researchers began looking at reasons that would explain the improvement between 2005 and 2008.
“We looked at everything possible, but couldn’t come up with a rationale,” Moody said. When they began the 2010 assessment, she said the group asked, was 2008 a blip, or a trend?
“We were happy to see much of the data hold,” Moody said.
The study was commissioned by Healthy Choices Caring Communities, which is the new name of the Partnership for a Drug-Free Fulton County.
The cost of the study was covered by grant funds.
Information in the 38-page health assessment comes from many sources, but one of the primary sources is a questionnaire handed out in randomly-chosen classrooms of county middle schools and high schools.
All seven county public school districts participated. Due to the small sizes of Pettisville and Gorham-Fayette school districts, surveys were only taken in their high schools.
In 2005, it was reported 18% of youth in grades 6-12 had binged on alcohol in the past 30 days. Binge drinking is defined as five or more alcoholic beverages in a couple of hours.
That 18% figure dropped to 9% in 2008, and held steady in 2010, although 13% of high schoolers (grades 9-12) said they had binge drank in the last 30 days.
The number of youth using alcohol in the past 30 days was 29% in 2005. That fell to 18% in 2008, and 15% in 2010. High school students reported 21% had had a drink in the last 30 days.
Students who had one alcoholic drink over their entire lifetime was 58% in 2005, which was down to 41% in 2008, and down again to 40% in 2010. Almost half of high school students, 49%, said they had drunk an alcoholic beverage.
In 2005, 42% of youngsters said they’d tried smoking, even one or two puffs, while 19% said they’d smoked one or more cigarettes in the past 30 days, and 6% said they had used smokeless tobacco (i.e., snuff, chewing tobacco).
That was cut nearly in half in 2008. Lifetime cigarette use was reported as 24%, and down again to 20% in 2010. Use of one or more cigarettes in the past 30 days dropped to 8%, which held steady in 2010.
Smokeless tobacco use increased in 2010 to 6%.
The number for high school students in 2010 was higher. Lifetime cigarette use was 26%, one or more cigarettes in the last 30 days was 11%, and smokeless tobacco, 8%.
Of students surveyed in 2005, 11% said they had used marijuana in the past 30 days. That was down to 4% in 2008, which doubled to 8% in 2010.
Of the high school students surveyed, 11% said they had used marijuana.
All other drug use, including cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, steroids, and inhalants, were down.
Abuse of prescription medication, not determined in 2005, was 7% in 2008, and held steady in 2010, although 8% of high school students admitted to misuse of prescription drugs.
Some areas, listed as injury related behaviors, were up.
Of the students surveyed in 2008, 8% said they consid- ered suicide in the preceding 12 months. That figure jumped to 10% in 2010 and 11% for high school students.
The figure was 19% for grades 6-12 in 2005.
Suicide attempts, which were at 9% in 2005, were down to 3% in 2008, then climbed to 4% in 2010. Among high school students, the number was 5%.
The 2005 survey said one student in 10 had been threatened, or injured with a weapon on school property in the preceding 30 days. That fell to 4% in 2008, but was up to 7% in 2010.
One significant improvement was in the number of students who admitted to riding in a vehicle driven by someone who was drunk.
In 2005, almost one of every four of those surveyed, 24%, confessed to the behavior. That fell to 19% in 2008, and 15% in 2010.
Across the state of Ohio, the number of girls between the ages of 15 and 17 who gave birth has been steady at between 19.5 and 19.8 per 1000 population since 2005.
Fulton County’s teen birth rate peaked at 16.7 per 1000 population in 2005, then started a three-year decline. There were 11.7 teen births per 1,000 in 2005, 8.0 in 2007, and 5.3 in 2008.
The number of Fulton County youths considered obese in 2005 was 14% in 2005. That was down to 11% in 2008, a figure that held steady for 2010. Only 10% of high school students were considered obese in 2010.
In 2005, 54% of those surveyed said they watched three hours or more of television. That was down to 35% in 2008, and 36% in 2010.
When Fulton County is compared to the state and the nation, most of the county health factors are better.
Moody said Fulton County has “a great deal of youth programs.
“We’re looking to keep up the programs, and keep encouraging families to spend time with teens.
“We want to encourage community involvement, in programs like 4-H or Boy Scouts.
“We want to work to encourage healthy behaviors in youth.
“It’s an ongoing effort,” she said.
Fulton County Youth
|One drink, lifetime||58%||41%||40%||76%||73%|
|Used alcohol, last 30 days||29%||18%||15%||46%||42%|
|Binge drank 4||18%||9%||9%||29%||24%|
|Tried a cigarette||42%||24%||20%||51%||46%|
|Smoked in last 30 days||19%||8%||8%||22%||20%|
|Used smokeless tobacco,|
|last 30 days||6%||4%||6%||10%||9%|
|Used marijuana last 30 days||11%||4%||8%||18%||21%|
|Prescription drug abuse||N/A||7%||7%||N/A||N/A|
|Rode with drunk driver 5||24%||19%||15%||23%||28%|
|Threatened or injured|
|w/weapon at school 6||10%||4%||7%||8%||8%|
|Suicide considered 6||19%||8%||10%||13%||14%|
|Suicide attempted 6||9%||3%||4%||7%||6%|
|Teen birth rate-Ohio||19.1||19.5||19.8||19.7||19.7|
|Teen birth rate-Fulton Co.||10.9||16.7||11.7||8.0||5.3|
|(Rate per 1,000 population)|
1 Based on grades 6-12. 2 2007 data, grades 9-12. 3 2009 data, grades 9-12. 4 Binge drinking is defined as five or more drinks in a couple of house, on one occasion. 5 In the last 30 days. 6 In the past 12 months. Information taken from the 2010 Fulton County Youth Health Assessment; commissioned by Health Choices Caring Communities (formerly Partnership for a Drug-Free Fulton County) and Fulton County Family and Children First County. Archbold Buckeye chart.