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An ounce of prevention during teen years is key to future health

This is Science Today. Most teens are not getting the recommended level of preventive health care at their physician's office. Dr. Charles Irwin, Jr, a professor of pediatrics and director of the Division of Adolescent Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, says their findings, which were based on an analysis of a national survey, need to be addressed because many health-promoting and damaging behaviors begin in adolescence.

Irwin:              So we know that if a young person starts using substances during early adolescence, the likelihood that they will be habituated to substances in young adulthood is very strong. We also know that if you exit adolescence being overweight, the likelihood of you being overweight for the rest of your life is much greater.

Narrator:        In fact, Irwin says most behaviors that account for the lion's share of health problems in adulthood - such as cancer, diabetes and smoking - begin in adolescences.

Irwin:             So, one would hope that preventive visits could address some of those issues.

Narrator:        For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.