Gateway 4: Establishing a Healthy Lifestyle in Childhood and Adolescence

Kids who develop healthy habits early are more likely to enjoy good health throughout their adult lives and into their senior years than kids who develop unhealthy habits.

Sound physical and mental health in childhood and adolescence are important to building self esteem and to establishing the habits of a lifetime.

Teens who establish healthy lifestyles and have their mental health and substance abuse problems addressed early are likely to experience greater physical and mental health in adulthood, leading to long and productive lives and careers.

Those who do not establish healthy lifestyles or who do not address developing mental illnesses early are more likely to encounter debilitating and costly health problems in adulthood, curtailing their productivity and the quality of life for them and their families.

Indicator 1: Percentage of children and adolescents who are overweight.
Overweight or obese kids are likely to become overweight or obese adults who suffer greater health challenges, reduced productivity and shorter lives.

Indicator 2: Depression among Colorado teens.
Depression is often debilitating – it can hurt a child’s ability to succeed in school and in social networks and can lead to self-destructive behavior, including suicide, or serious mental health problems in adulthood.

Indicator 3: Access to treatment for serious emotional and behavioral problems.
Without access to effective and affordable treatment, kids with serious emotional and behavioral problems suffer at school and in the home, and end up in child welfare or youth correction programs.

Indicator 4: Drug, alcohol and tobacco use and abuse.
Tobacco, drug and alcohol use in the teen years can lead to a lifetime of addiction and abuse and can cause life-threatening health complications.

Read the whole chapter on Gateway 4: Establishing a Healthy Lifestyle in Childhood and Adolescence in Colorado: The State of Opportunity 2002 report2005 report