Connecticut youth sleep less, have more access to drugs, drink less soda

Connecticut youth get less sleep, have more access to illegal drugs at school and drink less soda, according to the latest Connecticut School Health Survey:

  • 24.2% of Connecticut youth receive at least eight hours of sleep each night, compared to the 31.7% national average.
  • 27.1% of Connecticut youth report having access to illegal drugs at school, compared to the 22.1% national average.
  • 13.9% of Connecticut youth drink soda on a daily basis, compared to the 27% national average.

The Connecticut School Health Survey is part of a national surveillance system that monitors heath-risk behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death and disability among youth adults, according to the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH)'s June 12 press release.

The survey is administered in two sections: the Youth Behavior Component (YBC) and the Youth Tobacco Component (YTC):

  • YBC surveys high school students and monitors public health risk behaviors that contribute to the leading cause of death, disability and social problems among American youth and adults.
  • YTC surveys tobacco use, access, cessation, knowledge and attitudes and exposure among students in grades 6-12.

The latest survey was administered to public high school students in 2013, and included questions related to:

  • Positive influences.
  • Alcohol and drug use.
  • Diet and nutrition.
  • Physical activity.
  • Sexual behaviors.
  • School environment.
  • Behaviors that contribute to unintentional injuries and violence.

The results of the youth survey show decreases in:

  • Alcohol use and binge drinking.
  • Over-the-counter drug abuse.
  • Physical fighting.
  • Some risky sexual behaviors.

DPH Commissioner Dr. Jewel Mullen said although the latest survey data "show encouraging trends, there are still many Connecticut youth who engage in risky behaviors that compromise their health and future."

"Parents, educators, and peers can use this survey data to start conversations with students about how making smart choices are critical to growing up healthy and thriving in school," she said.

The results also show an association between health-risk behaviors and academic achievement. According to the DPH's press release, students who receive mostly D's and F's, compared to student who report receiving grades that are mostly A's, are more likely to:

  • Drink and drive.
  • Have abused prescription drugs.
  • Have been in a physical fight.
  • Have poor eating habits.
  • Watch excessive television after school.
  • Report having a sad or depressed mood.

Additionally, students who report adequate sleep and feelings of strong family support not only show good academic performance, but healthy behaviors as well, according to the survey results.

"A healthy mind and body equips our students to perform at their highest academic potential. Likewise, a positive learning environment where our students feel welcomed and safe is essential for them to thrive," said Connecticut State Department of Education Chief Operating Officer Charlene Russell-Tucker.

"A strong partnership among schools, families and communities is a critically important factor in creating an educational system that supports students in making healthy and responsible choices.”

Click here to view more results from the Connecticut School Health Survey.