Health related behaviours: grouped risks across adolescence
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Purpose: Adolescence can be associated with a tendency to engage in health damaging behaviour. The purpose of this study is to test whether cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors are present in this age group, and to explore possible moderator variables. Methods: The database of the Portuguese Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children (HBSC; Currie, Hurrelmann, Settertobulte, Smith & Todd, 2000) study was used comprising a nationally representative sample of 6131 adolescents attending the 6th, 8th and 10th grades (M = 14 years, SD = 1.85). Students answered a self-report questionnaire concerning health behaviours. Results: An Exploratory Factor Analysis with Promax Rotation yielded a factor solution consisting of four types of risk behaviours: psychological symptoms, substance use, weight inducers, and body concerns and inactivity. Younger students demonstrated the least risky behaviours. Females scored highest in psychological symptoms and body concerns, whereas males scored highest in substance abuse and weight inducers. Psychological symptoms and body concerns are higher among overweight and obese adolescents compared to normal weight adolescents. Conclusions: Adolescents already present a number of risk behaviours associated with CVD. This association is moderated by gender, age and Body Mass Index (BMI). Implications are discussed.