It's common knowledge that child and teen obesity rates have been rising at an alarming rate these past few decades, probably not helped by unrealistic P.E. class requirements—(some of the time you get a bad grade if you can't touch your toes! Not fair!)—but mostly because we sit a lot. And watch a lot of stuff. And eat a lot of crap. But guess what?! That's all changing! In a small but noticeable way! Way to go, gang!
So here's the deal. According to a study published in Pediatrics this week, teenagers are getting more exercise and eating more fruits and vegetables! We're consuming less sugar, and watching less TV, which might suggest that some aggressive anti-obesity messages like Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign which advocates at least an hour of physical activity a day, may be having an impact.
BUT. This doesn't necessarily mean we're getting skinnier. It means that we're plateauing. Obesity rates more than doubled since 1980, but have risen at a slower rate between 2001 and 2006, finally leveling off in 2010 at 13 percent. Progress!
This information is especially promising since children have the highest rates of activity and fruit consumption when they're young, but start showing sedentary habits as they get in their teens. Boys reported the most physical activity, but they also ate fewer fruits and veggies, and played more video games than girls. Both boys and girls reported eating less candy and drinking less soda. Or pop—or soft drinks—or whatever you call them—and watching less TV.
Here's the other deal. Some experts say we can still only be cautiously optimistic, since it's almost impossible to deduce cause and effect factors that influence teen obesity. But we're choosing to be recklessly optimistic! In a responsible way. This might mean that education on the subject of teen and child obesity is making a bigger difference than outright banning huge sodas! MObama is going to be so excited.
[via The New York Times]