Fewer Teens Smoking

Bits and pieces from the world of health:

  • Cigarette smoking among U.S. high school students is at its lowest level since a survey began in 1991, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

In 2013, 15.7 percent of U.S. teens smoked cigarettes, according to the CDC’s annual National Youth Risk Behavior Survey. That means the country has achieved its Healthy People 2020 objective of 16 percent or fewer teens smoking cigarettes, the CDC reported. But 23 percent of male high school seniors smoke cigars.

Fighting has continued to decline as well. The percentage of high school students who reported having been in a physical fight within the past 12 months was 25 percent last year. In 1991, it was 42 percent. Fights on school property have been cut in half during the past two decades, the CDC’s survey said.

Sexual activity declined, too, since 1991, but not by a lot — from 38 percent to 34 percent.

For the first time, the survey asked teens about texting or emailing while driving. Among those who had driven a vehicle within the previous 30 days, 41 percent said they had sent texts and/or emails.

  • Six thousand steps or more a day can protect those with or at risk of knee osteoarthritis from having difficulty getting up from a chair or climbing stairs.

So says a study published on Thursday in the journal Arthritis Care & Research.

In the study, led by Daniel White of Boston University’s Sargent College, researchers measured daily steps taken by 1,788 people with or at risk for the condition. At 6,000 steps or more, participants experienced benefits, according to a news release from Wiley, the journal’s publisher.

Osteoarthritis of the knees is the leading cause of functional limitation among older adults, the news release stated. Previous medical evidence shows that two-thirds of U.S. adults with arthritis walk less than 90 minutes a week.

  • Online enrollment on MNsure.org won’t be available this weekend, the agency announced. The shutdown will last from 9 this evening (Friday, June 13) and continue to 6 a.m. Monday.

At the same time, the call center will be closed on Saturday and Sunday and again on Saturday, June 21. Beginning June 23, its summer hours will be 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

System updates will be performed on both the online and phone systems, a MNsure news release said.

Although open enrollment is closed, individuals with qualifying life events, Native Americans, small businesses and those in Medical Assistance or Minnesota Care can enroll throughout the year.

John Lundy is the health reporter for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at jlundy@duluthnews.com.


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