Adolescent Health Home

Critical Adolescent Health Issues - Chronic Diseases


It is during adolescence, that youth really determine many of their life long health and safety habits. It is estimated that more than 30% of adolescents have one or more chronic condition, including respiratory allergies, asthma, frequent/severe headaches, eczma, ear infections, digestive allergies, etc. (Newacheck and McManus). It you count those adolescents who are obese, than the figure is even higher. In addition, some of the conditions and behaviors developed during adolescence can lead to additional health care conditions and costs as the youth become adults.

According to the 21 Critical Health Objectives, tobacco use, obesity, and lack of physical activity are some of the most serious health and safety issues related to chronic disease faced by many of U.S. adolescents.

Data on Adolescent Chronic Disease

Current cigarette use (smoked cigarettes on at least 1 day during 30 days prior to survey): 20.0 %

Youth who were obese (based on 95th percentile for BMI, by age and sex, based on reference data): 13.0 %

Attended physical education classes daily (5 days/when in school): 30.3%

Data source: 2007 YRBS, CDC

Relevant AAP Policies Statements and Clinical Reports


Teen Reach: Outcomes From a Randomized, Controlled Trial of a Tobacco Reduction Program for Teens Seen in Primary Medical Care
Hollis JF, Polen, MR, Whitlock EP, et al.
Pediatrics. April 2005, 115: 4, pp. 981-989

Obesity and Physical Activity

Prevention of Pediatric Overweight and Obesity
Committee on Nutrition
Pediatrics. August 2003; 112: 2, pp. 424-430

Expert Committee Recommendations Regarding the Prevention, Assessment, and Treatment of Child and Adolescent Overweight and Obesity: Summary Report

Sarah E. Barlow and the Expert Committee
Pediatrics, Dec 2007; 120: S164 - S192.

Other AAP Resources

Overweight Adolescents: Clinical Challenges and Strategies
Kreipe RE.
Published in Adolescent Health Update, Vol. 10, No. 2, February 1998.
AAP Members can access back issues from the last four years of the Adolescent Health Update. This article can be accessed through the AAP publication, Caring for Adolescent Patients, 2nd Edition, Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2006: 571-582.

Overweight and Obesity Web site: This Web site documents AAP efforts to improve obesity prevention, treatment, advocacy and reimbursement.

Julius B. Richmond Center of Excellence: This Web site was developed to provide child health clinicians with the information and tools needed to help protect children from the harmful effects of tobacco and secondhand smoke. The site describes Richmond Center projects and collaborators, support from the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute and other funders, other AAP tobacco research, and a variety of opportunities for education and research.

Links to Additional Adolescent Chronic Disease Resources

The National Institute of Health Care Management, Inc. recently published a paper examining the modifiable risks of cardiovascular disesase, and how these risks can be addressed during adolescence. The paper, "Prevention of Adult Cardiovascular Disease Among Adolescents: Focusing on Risk Factor Reduction," is intended to inform health care professionals and helath care plans about the importance of early risk reduction.

Other critical adolescent health issues include:
Mortality, Sexual Health, Injury, Violence, Mental Health and Substance Abuse

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