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Youth Facing Greater Health Risks Today Than In Past; Those In Developing World Face Increasing Challenges, Lancet Series Suggests

“Young people today face greater risks to their physical and mental health than generations past, new research has found, with adolescents in the developing world rapidly acquiring the unhealthy habits of their wealthier counterparts,” the Financial Times reports. A series of studies published on Wednesday in the Lancet “present a general portrait of increasing hazard due to drug and alcohol abuse, unprotected sex, violence and inadequate employment opportunities,” the newspaper writes (Rowland, 4/25). Decreasing child mortality rates have led “to the largest generation of adolescents in history: 1.2 billion to be exact,” CNN’s “The Chart” blog notes, adding, “As many of those teens face poverty, natural disasters and wars in addition to overwhelming physical and emotional changes, researchers worry about the lack of available health resources” (4/24).

“There’s growing awareness that homicides, suicide and other forms of violence, car accidents, alcohol, drug and tobacco misuse, unsafe sex, obesity and physical inactivity, and mental disorders are prominent conditions during adolescence that also affect life into adulthood, says Richard Catalano, director of the Social Development Research Group at the University of Washington and lead author of the Lancet article on intervention efforts,” according to USA Today. “The good news is that these problems are preventable, and we know a heck a lot about them,” Catalano added, according to the newspaper (Healy, 4/24). “The report calls for a significant increase in funding for adolescent health, but emphasizes that health programs alone will not stem the tide of risk,” the Financial Times writes. According to the authors, “The strongest determinants of adolescent health worldwide are structural factors, such as national wealth, income inequality and access to schools,” the newspaper notes (4/25).