According to recent statistics, the most pervasive health issues facing young adults today (ages 18 to 29) are obesity and drug and alcohol abuse. National statistics show these problems are top health concerns across all ethnic groups. Both of these health issues highlight problems that some young adults may have with responsible behavior and making good choices.
The leading cause of death for young adults is unintentional injuries. These injuries are often traffic fatalities, many associated with drinking and driving. A key factor in many crashes is binge drinking.
Additionally, obesity rates for young adults tripled from the 1970s to the early 2000s. Health consequences from this epidemic include increases in diabetes and heart disease in young adults-chronic diseases that have life-long implications.
“From a health perspective, choices that our young adults make can have a profound impact on their health for the rest of their lives,” said Dr. Charlotte Alvarez, Family Medicine, Marshfield Clinic Minocqua Center. “For many years, their parents have helped to mold their health habits. Their health choices have often been made for them, at least until they start heading off to college or getting jobs.”
Dr. Alvarez explained that young adults tend to be less concerned with their own mortality and engage in riskier behaviors. They tend to overindulge in the many temptations that are presented when they are living on their own for the first time. “Many young adults are prone to make unhealthy decisions when it comes to nutrition, fitness and moderation with alcohol. They may also be experimenting with other drugs that are addictive and dangerous,” she said.
Dr. Alvarez stressed that it’s important for health providers to ask about what’s going on in young adults’ lives that could impact their health. Home and school or work life, hobbies and other activities, drugs, alcohol, sex and mental health are topics that should be covered during a young adult’s visit to the doctor.
For more information, call the Family Medicine Department at Marshfield Clinic, (715) 358-1824 or (800) 347-0673, or visit marshfieldclinic.org.