Report: Minnesota teens healthier than 1990s teens

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A survey of Minnesota sixth-, ninth- and 12th-graders finds notable decreases since the 1990s in a wide range of unhealthy behaviors, including smoking, sexual activity, fighting, binge drinking and riding in cars without seat belts, Minnesota health officials announced on Wednesday. Students are even drinking less soda than they did a decade ago, the report says.

Those results are found in the Minnesota Student Survey, conducted every three years. But Ed Ehlinger, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health, said there was bad news, too: Minority students still have higher rates of unhealthy behaviors than whites – a "persistent wellness gap," health officials say.

MPR highlights one example: Binge drinking by ninth-graders of all racial groups has dropped since 1995. In 1995, 34 percent of Hispanic ninth graders reported binge drinking, compared to 18 percent in 2010. For white ninth graders, the binge drinking rate dropped from 20 percent to 9 percent in the same time period.

This report marks the first time that the Minnesota Department of Health has systematically compared the health of teens from different ethnic and racial backgrounds, the state says.

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