A second chance in the second decade

Mortality, morbidity and disability in adolescence


Key points

  • Mortality rates are low in adolescents compared with other age groups and have shown a slight decline in the past decade.
  • Globally, the leading causes of death among adolescents are road injury, HIV, suicide, lower respiratory infections and interpersonal violence.
  • HIV-related deaths are estimated to have increased since 2000, although these estimates have considerable uncertainty.
  • Depression, road injuries, iron deficiency anaemia, HIV and suicide are the major causes of disability-adjusted life years lost in 10–19 year olds.
  • The African Region has the highest rates of disability-adjusted life years among adolescents.

Unhealthy foods tend to be cheap and more easily obtained and ready to eat compared to the expensive healthy stuff.

female, 18–19, United States of America

Adolescents on what should be done to improve their health: Encourage proper nutrition and warn young people about the consequences of addictions, that it isn’t all about being trendy but instead involves the state of your physical, mental and emotional well-being.

female, 15–17, Mexico

To be in good health means to feel good on the inside as well as on the outside. The daily emotional ups and downs of an adolescent can affect their health.

male, 18-19, France

I think a problem of adolescents is the obsession with their weight. A healthy and balanced diet should be promoted for both extremes, for those with excess weight and very low body weight.

male, 15–17, Spain

Adolescents on what should be done to improve their health: For mental health there should be more people to talk to, and they should also try to reach out to the children, not just wait for us to come to them.

Gender not specified, 15–17, United Kingdom