DENVER — Newly-released data shows the majority of Colorado’s youth are participating in healthy behaviors and that marijuana use among school-aged children has not significantly changed since legalization.
The data comes from the bi-annual statewide Healthy Kids Colorado Survey (HKCS) conducted last year with more than 100,000 students participating. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) released the results of the survey Monday.
The survey shows marijuana use among school-aged kids has stayed relatively flat since legalization, but the way kids are using marijuana has changed. In 2019, 20.6% of youth said they use marijuana compared to 19.4% in 2017. More youth are now vaping marijuana -- 10.6% in 2019 compared to 5.1% in 2015. Dabbing rose from 4.3% in 2015 to 20.4% in 2019.
A troubling finding in the survey shows more youth are experiencing depression, but the percentage of youth who have seriously considered suicide and attempted suicide has not changed. In 2019, 34.7% of youth reported feeling so sad or hopeless, up from 31.4% in 2017 and 29.5% in 2015.
The results indicate that children experience less mental health problems and avoid unhealthy behaviors when they have access to trusted adults, a stable family life and safe schools, according CDPHE analysis of the survey results.
Other highlights of the survey include:
Tobacco use/Vaping: In Colorado, the percent of youth who vape has not significantly changed since 2015, and cigarette use is declining. In 2019, 5.7% of youth reported smoking cigarettes compared to 7.2% in 2017. In 2019, 25.9% of youth reported vaping compared to 27.0% in 2017. This is not a statistically significant change. The percent of youth who think vaping is risky rose 23.2% between 2017 and 2019
Sexual health: The percent of youth who have had sex has not significantly changed since 2015. In 2019, 24.6% of youth said they were sexually active. Of those youth, 59.4% used a condom the last time they had sex, 79.2% used birth control, and 78.5% said they didn’t use drugs or alcohol before sex.
Healthy Eating: In Colorado, sugary beverage consumption by youth is decreasing. In 2019, 14.4% of youth consumed more than one soda per day in the last week compared to 15.8% in 2017. The percent of youth who are overweight or obese has not significantly changed since 2015.
Substance use: Youth who report that they use alcohol (29.6%), marijuana (20.6%), or vape (25.9%) has not significantly changed since 2015. Cigarette use among youth has decreased from 7.2% in 2017 to 5.7% in 2019.
Protective factors: Most youth in Colorado reported having a trusted adult to go to for help. In 2019, 72.7% of youth report having a trusted adult to go to for help with a serious problem, 87.4% of youth think their family has clear rules about alcohol and drug use, and 86.2% of youth report feeling safe at school.