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† C. Teen Health: Invest in Our Future

Narrator: This is Science Today. A University of California, San Francisco study reveals the adolescent population in this country is rising and will continue to do so until the year 2050. But Psychologist Elizabeth Ozer, who led the study, says there will be a demographic shift in that population, which may lead to a decline in health.

Ozer: Thereís a much larger percentage of adolescents who are coming from minority families, single parent families and families living in poverty. Adolescents who are poor, are less likely to have good nutritional habits, a lot of that is due to economics, are less likely to visit a doctor and if youíre going to say whatís the number one predictor of health, itís your economic status.

Narrator: Because of these statistics, Ozer says policy makers should pay more attention to what she considers an ignored population.

Ozer: I mean, theyíre here, thereís more of them than ever. The problems that begin in adolescence are preventable.

Narrator: These problems include preventable unhealthy behaviors, such as cigarette smoking, drug abuse, unsafe sex and unsafe driving. For Science Today, Iím Larissa Branin.