Date of Award


Degree Type



Biological Sciences

Director of Thesis

Myriam Torres

First Reader

Edena Meetze


The youth population is a large portion of the total population in the United States, making up approximately 25% of all people. Youth, especially as they reach high school age, are prone to partaking in risk behaviors, or behaviors that put them at increased risk of morbidity and mortality. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducts a survey every other year to collect data on these risk behaviors called the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). For this study, data was pulled from the survey regarding tobacco use, alcohol use, marijuana use, physical activity, television watching, breakfast eating, and sleep quantity. These various behaviors have differing impacts on high school students, and a simple bivariate analysis was conducted to examine the relationship between those behaviors and those who answered the question “Because of a physical, mental, or emotional problem, do you have difficulty remembering, concentrating, or making a decision?” (CDC, 2016c). The results indicated that those who answered ‘yes’ to the question above were less likely to be drinkers, smokers, drug users, and less likely to be physically inactive than those who answered ‘no’. They were more likely to be physically active, get adequate sleep, and eat breakfast consistently. A stratified analysis was conducted by sex, and the results were very similar for both males and females surveyed. While other literature points to the opposite, we found that those who report a physical, mental, or emotional problem that is causing difficulty remembering, concentrating, or making decisions or more likely to exhibit healthier behaviors.

First Page


Last Page



© 2017, Charles Guenther