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Teens Trade Sugar for Fruits and Veggies
In a small but significant shift, teens are consuming slightly less sugar and television
in favor of slightly more exercise and fruits and veggies, according to a recent study published in the journal Pediatrics.
That could be why obesity rates aren’t increasing as fast as they were a decade ago, a trend welcomed by doctors and public-health gurus—including First Lady Michelle Obama—especially if progress continues and more communities take the “Let’s Move” campaign and pro-healthy, anti-obesity messages to heart.
Kids still have a ways to go, though, especially as they get older, to meet federal recommendations calling for an hour of physical activity daily for all children. Younger children get the most exercise and eat the most fruits and vegetables, the study found. As kids get older, they tend to spend more time in front of the screen (more than two hours a day) and eat more junk food, resulting in higher average body mass index, no surprise.
The study also found a racial gap with less progress made by African-American and Latino adolescents even after researchers tried to control for socioeconomic factors.
The study, carried out once every four years from 2001 to 2011, analyzed data from a national survey of tens of thousands of schoolchildren in grades 6 through 10. Childhood obesity rates, more than double what they were in 1980, rose slightly between 2001 and 2006, then leveled off by 2010, at roughly 13 percent. The proportion of overweight teens plateaued at around 17 percent. Read an excellent summary of the study in the New York Times.
Obese children tend to grow into obese adults at greater risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and cancer.
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