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Jamaican Youth Health Status 2005



The purpose of this survey is to determine health-seeking behaviour, nutritional status and lifestyles of adolescents aged 10–15 years. A random sample of 3003 (1 422 males and 1 581 females) schoolchildren, aged 10–15 years, was studied in a cross-sectional, interviewer-administered school-based survey conducted in all school types islandwide in a nationally representative sample of Jamaican children currently attending school. Some 3003 youths, 1422 males and 1581 females were interviewed. Males and females had similar healthcare-seeking behaviour but fewer students attending schools in rural areas reported having their eyes or hearing checked, or had seen a dentist than those attending urban schools. Some twelve per cent of adolescents were overweight/ obese. More females than males and more urban than rural students were overweight or obese. More boys (86.3%) were physically active in the last week than girls (75%). Physical activity peaked at age 13 years and was lowest at ages 11 and 14–15 years.
Some 13% of adolescents 10–15 years old reported having had sexual intercourse, with boys being four times as likely as girls to report sexual activity (OR– 4.97; C.I. – 3.82, 6.47). The median age of sexual debut was 15.43 years for boys and over 15 years for girls. One-third of adolescents drank alcohol and 3% smoked marijuana in the past year. More boys than girls used drugs (p < 0.01). Some 14% of adolescents felt lonely, sad or wanted to cry most of the time/always. One-tenth seriously considered suicide. This study concluded that most adolescents attending primary and secondary schools in Jamaica were not involved in risky behaviour. However, it reveals some critical areas of concern with regard to nutritional status and physical activity, emotional well-being, drug use and sexual activity.

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e-Published: 20 Sep, 2013
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