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News Release - Health and Well Being of Colorado Youth

March 1, 2011

News Release

“Healthy Kids Colorado Survey” Provides State-Level Picture of Health and Well Being of Colorado Youth

The Colorado Department of Education today announced the findings of the 2009 “Healthy Kids Colorado Survey.” The survey highlights the priority health-related attitudes and behaviors of Colorado high school youth and can be found at

The survey was administered in the fall of 2009 to ninth through 12th-graders at randomly selected public schools throughout Colorado. Participating schools utilize this data to inform the creation and development of health and wellness programs in their schools.

The survey is the only state health survey supported by the Colorado Department of Education that is administered directly to students. Its success relies on the willingness of schools and districts to work with the state on the basis that “healthy kids really do learn better.”

The survey addresses several categories to:

  1. Determine the prevalence of health and risk behaviors
  2. Assess changes in health behaviors and attitudes over time
  3. Examine the co-occurrence of health risk behaviors
  4. Provide comparable national, state and local data
  5. Provide comparable data among subpopulations of youth
  6. Monitor progress toward achieving the Healthy People 2010 (a Centers for Disease Control program) objectives and other program indicators.

Highlights include:

Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Health

  • Close to 90 percent of Colorado students reported participating in some physical activity (at least 60 minutes for one or more of the past 7 days) in the week prior to the survey and over 60 percent reported playing on a sports team in the past year. In 2009, students were significantly more likely to report being active compared to 2005.
  • Students were more likely to report eating fruits or vegetables five or more times per day during the past seven days in 2009 compared to 2005.

Personal Safety, Unintentional Injuries & Violence

  • In both 2005 and 2009, results indicate that students were more than twice as likely to ride with someone who had been drinking alcohol than to drive themselves after drinking. Further, Colorado students were significantly less likely to report driving after drinking in 2009 compared to 2005.
  • In 2009, Colorado students were significantly less likely to both ride with a driver who had been drinking as well as drive after drinking compared to the national sample of students.

Tobacco, Alcohol and Other Substance Use

  • In 2005 and 2009, Colorado youth were more likely to report trying alcohol, cigarettes, or marijuana than any other substance.
  • Students were statistically less likely to report drinking alcohol for the first time before age 13 in 2009 (22.4 percent) compared to 2005 (27.1 percent).

Mental Health

  • One-quarter of students reported feeling depressed in the 12 months prior to the survey in both 2005 and 2009, and approximately 14 percent reported that they seriously considered suicide in both years.

Questions related to risk and protective factors were also included on the survey. Risk and protective factors are characteristics that increase or decrease, respectively, the likelihood of substance use, delinquency, and other risky behaviors. Risk and protective factor profiles (i.e., prevalence patterns based on cut-points) help communities identify areas of strength and concern and help to identify potential areas for intervention.

The next statewide survey administration will occur in the fall of the 2011-2012 school year and, subsequently, on a biennial basis. Data from the next administration will provide an additional year of statewide data that can be used to assess the variation of certain behaviors over time and analyze changes among subgroups of high school students.

Partners on the survey include the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Colorado Department of Human Services- Division of Behavioral Health and OMNI Institute.

For more information about the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey or to contact the Colorado Interagency School Health Team, please contact Paula Gumina at

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