Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Pediatrics. 2011 May;127(5):827-34. doi: 10.1542/peds.2010-2742. Epub 2011 Apr 25.

Risk-taking behaviors of adolescents with extreme obesity: normative or not?

Author information

  • 1Division of Community and General Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, 3333 Burnet Ave, MLC 7035, Cincinnati, OH 45229, USA.



Present first published data detailing high-risk behaviors of adolescent high school students (HSS) with extreme obesity (BMI ≥ 99th percentile for age and gender) compared with healthy weight peers (5th-84th percentile).


The 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Survey was used to compare HSS with extreme obesity (N = 410) and healthy weight peers (N = 8669) in their engagement in (1) tobacco use, (2) alcohol/other drug use, (3) high-risk sexual behaviors, and (4) suicidal behaviors. Logistic regression was used to calculate gender-stratified odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI), controlling for age and race.


HSS with extreme obesity were similar to healthy weight peers in the prevalence of most behaviors related to alcohol/drug use, high-risk sexual activities, and suicide, with the following exceptions: relative to healthy weight HSS, both male and female students with extreme obesity more frequently reported ever trying cigarettes (female students, adjusted OR: 2.0 [95% CI: 1.3-3.2]; male students, OR: 1.5 [CI: 1.2-2.0]). Compared with healthy weight female students, female students with extreme obesity had lower odds of ever having sex (OR: 0.5 [CI: 0.3-0.9]), but greater odds of drinking alcohol/using drugs before their last sexual encounter (OR: 4.6 [CI: 1.2-17.6]), currently smoking (OR: 2.3 [CI: 1.2-4.4]), and using smokeless tobacco (OR: 4.6 [CI: 1.2-17.2]). Compared with healthy weight male students, male students with extreme obesity had greater odds of smoking before age 13 (OR: 1.4 [CI: 1.0-2.0]).


With few exceptions, HSS with extreme obesity engage in high-risk behaviors at rates comparable with healthy weight peers, sometimes in even more dangerous ways. Health care providers should assess risk-taking behaviors in this cohort.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk