Youth health survey reveals gender differences

Last week the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services released the results of the 2013 Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey (MIYHS). The survey is administered by the two State agencies every other year at public schools to students in grades five through 12, with more than 63,000 respondents in 2013.

While there are hundreds of pages of findings, the Department will occasionally use the weekly Commissioner’s Update to spotlight some areas of interest. This week, we focus on the responses of the high school students by gender:

Substance and tobacco use data indicate some significant differences between males and females. Males are more likely to have used tobacco (15 percent vs.11 percent) and marijuana (24 percent vs.19 percent) in the past 30 days. There was no significant difference in alcohol use (26 percent).

There were also gender differences with parents who felt that it would be wrong for their son or daughter to smoke cigarettes (90 percent  sons vs. 92 percent daughters), use alcohol (91 percent sons vs. 95 percent daughters), or use marijuana (84 percent sons vs. 86 percent daughters).

Male students surveyed found it easier to get tobacco (60 percent vs. 56 percent) and marijuana (58 percent vs. 55 percent) while females found it easier to get alcohol than their male counterparts (68 percent vs. 64 percent). When thinking of their four best friends, 71 percent of females reported that at least one had used alcohol in the past year.

In a separate area, male students were more likely to be considered overweight (17 percent vs. 15 percent) and obese (16 percent vs. 9 percent) than female students.

To read the entire report, go to https://data.mainepublichealth.gov/miyhs/.