Advancements in medicine have caused our risk from sickness and disease to reach all-time lows, and safer cars have also had a very positive effect on the number of young people who die from road accidents every year. But even with these advancements, there are still very real health risks for everyone, even those who have both youth and good physical condition in their favor. Some of these risks can be reduced or eliminated simply by choices each individual makes. There are a number of risky behaviors that entice many young people and can result in serious injury, diseases, and even premature death.
The following are considered among the top health risks for young adults today.
Unfortunately, accidents are still a constant risk for young people, even with all the safety precautions that have been put in place after years of study and development. Although the numbers are lower when measured against the entire population, as of 2005, there are still about 40 deaths per 100,000 young adults due to accidents. The majority are likely due to automobile accidents, many of which are caused by inexperience or simply by risky behaviors while driving.
As unbelievable as it may seem, we have known about the dangers of smoking for decades and still, there are young people taking up smoking every day. The age-old perception that smoking is “cool” is still alive and well despite all of the warnings issued by government officials and education programs that attempt to make young people realize that smoking is a very real threat to their lives. Sadly, many of them will only realize the consequences of their decision to take up smoking when they find themselves being treated for cancer in their later years.
Here’s a danger that appears to have actually increased over the years. As processed foods invaded store shelves to a larger extent in recent decades, young people can no longer assume that something is good to eat just because it can be found in the supermarket. Processed foods have little nutritional value, and are loaded with harmful ingredients such as high-fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors and pesticide residue. Obesity that can easily result from eating what is considered a “normal” diet in today’s world, which can lead to serious health problems like high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and heart disease. Rates of obesity have increased significantly in recent years and have tripled since the 1970s.
4. Lack of Exercise
This may not sound like a big deal, but exercise is extremely important for those that want to maintain good health. New research is coming out quite regularly that reveals just how important exercise is for everyone. It has benefits that range from helping to control high blood pressure to fighting depression. Although it might seem as if only older adults need to worry about getting enough exercise, younger adults will also benefit by avoiding a sedentary lifestyle, which could put them at risk later in life for heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems. Statistics from 2005 and 2006 reveal that only 36 percent of young adults engage in regular physical activity in their spare time.
5. Lack of Strength Training
Although this sounds like something that only athletes need to be concerned about, recent research has uncovered new evidence that strongly suggests that strength training is beneficial to health at any age. Strength training should be performed at least twice per week, but the majority of young adults are not involved in it at all, with only 26 percent of them taking part in some form of strength training a couple of times per week. While the energy levels and good health normally associated with youth may have some people convinced that they do not have to worry about this type of exercise, it does help build a foundation for a healthier life later on as they age, and will likely face new health challenges.
6. Health Insurance
There’s intense debate over the effectiveness of the new government-mandated health care plan in the United States, but it’s likely that there still are a significant number of young adults who are still not insured. In 2006, only a third of young adults between the ages of 20 and 24 had health insurance. Lack of health insurance can often be a barrier that can prevent people from seeking the medical attention they need for any number of ailments because health care can be so expensive, and many people do not have the money or do not want to go into debt due to doctor visits or hospital stays. This fortunately doesn’t apply to people who live in the UK, as they have the NHS.
7. Feeling Invincible
Young people are very prone to the idea that they simply cannot die. It’s such a foreign notion to them that they actually may begin to think they are invincible. Obviously, that attitude can lead to all kinds of risky activity that can easily end in serious injury or death. Despite society’s efforts to educate young adults about the risks associated with activities like drug and alcohol abuse, smoking, and driving recklessly, a certain percentage of them will always be certain that they will beat the odds and survive anything they decide to try. Sadly, it is not uncommon for this behavior to cut lives short that should have been much longer.