The Prevalence of health risk behaviors among learners in selected urbanized secondary schools in Namibia
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Research indicates that destructive lifestyles during adolescence may lead to serious health risks in later years of life. The prevalence of health risk behaviour among school leaners should signal significant red flags to authorities as well as communities. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of some health risk behaviour among learners in selected urbanized secondary schools in Namibia. For this study, 294 leaners (boys = 133 and girls = 161) from four secondary schools in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, were randomly selected. To determine the prevalence of health risk behaviour in each age group, height, body mass, body mass index (BMI) and percentage body fat (%BF) were determined and the Youth Risk Behaviour Survey Questionnaire (2003) was completed by each participant. The following constructs were studied, viz. physical activity participation, overweight/obesity, smoking, sexual activity, suicidal ideation, alcohol and drug usage. Data were analysed by using the Statistica for Windows (version 6 software) to calculate the descriptive statistics as well as two-way analysis of variance, to determine the relationship between physical activity participation and health risk behaviour. The effect size (ES) was calculated in order to determine the practical significance of the difference. Descriptive analysis indicated some alarming prevalence of health risk behaviour among the learners. The highest prevalence of health risk behaviour in boys and girls combined are; alcohol intake (47%) and overweight/obesity (39%) respectively, followed by smoking (28%) and sexual activity (25%). For the boys, alcohol intake (46%), sexual activity (30%) and smoking (30%) ranked first, second and third respectively, while for the girls, overweight/obesity (61%) showed the highest prevalence with alcohol consumption (47%) and physical inactivity (28%) in the second and third place respectively. The age group (boys and girls) which revealed the highest prevalence of health risk behaviour is the 15-year-old boys (70% alcohol intake) and 14-year-old girls (80% alcohol intake). It also appears that participation in physical activity can be associated with a decreased prevalence of risky behaviour, although different responses occurred between boys and girls – as well as between age groups in the same gender. This study reveals alarming red flags that should not be ignored by the public and authorities.
- Faculty of Health Sciences