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Teens gaining healthy habits, but not enough
September 16th, 2013
01:46 PM ET

Teens gaining healthy habits, but not enough

Efforts to increase healthy habits in American teens may be making an impact, according to a new study. Adolescents are moving more, eating better and watching less TV than they used to, and researchers say obesity rates in this group may finally be stabilizing.

The study results come a little more than a month after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it was seeing signs of progress in the fight against childhood obesity, especially in low-income families.

In the new study, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, researchers analyzed data from three sets of students in grades 6 to 10. One set was surveyed during the 2001-2002 school year, another set during the 2005-2006 school year and the third set from the 2009-2010 school year. Researchers asked the students about their daily physical activity, nutrition, breakfast consumption, TV habits, and height and weight. They then compared the answers across the three school years to identify trends in healthy - or unhealthy - behaviors.

Overall, the results were encouraging. Between 2001-2002 and 2009-2010, researchers saw an increase in the number of days teens were getting at least 60 minutes of physical activity, and decreases in the amount of television they watched. The teens reported eating more fruits and vegetables and consuming fewer sweets, as well as drinking fewer sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soda. Researchers also saw an increase in the number of days the teens ate breakfast.

All great news, right?

Unfortunately, the researchers also saw significant increases in the teens' body mass indexes, or BMIs, over the same time period. In 2001-2002, 10.3% of the students surveyed were obese; in 2009-2010, 12.7% were obese. A similar increase was seen in the overweight BMI category.

(Researchers noted that there was no significant increase in BMI between the 2005-2006 and 2009-2010 school years, indicating that the upward trend may have flat-lined in more recent years.)

The study also showed:

– BMI was higher in boys than girls, and higher in African-American and Hispanic youths compared to white teens

– Girls ate more fruits and vegetables than boys, but ate breakfast less often

– Girls were more likely to eat sweets; boys drank more sugar-sweetened beverages

– Older teens reported less daily physical activity, less vegetable/fruit consumption, more sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages and fewer breakfast meals than the younger study participants

While the increases seen in healthy behaviors are good, the researchers said, teens still aren't meeting public health recommendations. Most of the adolescents surveyed did not get the recommended 60+ minutes of physical activity per day, nor did they consume more than five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. The majority also watched more than two hours of television daily, and consumed more sweets and soda than they should.

"There is considerable need for improvement," the study authors concluded. More data is needed to confirm that obesity rates in this age group have actually stabilized, and more advances "may be necessary before the trend begins to turn downward."


soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. jessica

    The new thinking these days is : fat = normal , obesity = new fat . Therefore , no more obese people .

    September 16, 2013 at 16:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • dk01ndkfnsdd

      Agree 100%

      Too many fat Americans, and its getting ridiculous. People – lay off the junk foods, eat better and get lots of exercise.

      September 18, 2013 at 07:12 | Report abuse |
  2. pointless1

    Eat a carrot already...

    September 16, 2013 at 17:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • really

      obesity is a big problem you cant just say to eat a carrot.

      November 6, 2013 at 14:50 | Report abuse |
  3. Marcia

    Obesity is a disease and it is also a modern day side effect from food chemicals.
    Food chemicals such as aspartame and high fructose corn syrups are damaging the health of the people.

    Most of our obesity today is caused by inflammation, processed foods and food chemicals cause inflammatory weight gain, this can be genetically passed on to children.

    People are not losing weight cause of inflammation from processed foods

    just google SPIRIT HAPPY DIET

    September 16, 2013 at 21:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nicole

      You do realize that all food, and all matter, is made up of chemicals? Water is chemical. Everything is chemical. When you talk about obesity being caused by "food chemicals" you sound idiotic.

      September 17, 2013 at 01:36 | Report abuse |
    • fred

      I would respectfully disagree.

      Eat less and exercise more and watch the obesity "disease" go away.

      September 17, 2013 at 08:20 | Report abuse |
    • ELC

      uummm no. obesity is a side effect of eating too much

      September 17, 2013 at 14:51 | Report abuse |
    • dk01ndkfnsdd

      Nonsense. Fat is caused by people not eating right, eating too much high caloric foods, compulsive eating and not getting exercise. Stop watching TV and take a walk.

      September 18, 2013 at 07:14 | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Just because you read it on the internet does not make it true. Mainstream scientists discount what you say, but there could be something to it. However, I am betting that most obesity is from lack of exercise, eting too much, eating too many lousy foods (high fat, sugar, etc)

      September 18, 2013 at 09:18 | Report abuse |
  4. The GOP Solution

    The GOP think that because the young and poor can't afford to eat. that's a GOOD thing!

    September 17, 2013 at 11:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. New diet plan

    It's called PTFFD. (Put The Frickin Fork Down)

    September 17, 2013 at 11:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Timmy Suckle

    I kissed my way up to VP at a health insurance company. Now I take over $600,000 of your health care dollars for NO VALUE ADDED to your health care. And that’s just me. Now think about how many other VPs, Directors, Managers, etc. are at my company alone. Now multiply that by thousands of others at hundreds of other health insurance companies. From 10 to 25% of your health care dollars go towards administration that adds NO VALUE to your health care. But my company’s PAC dollars will continue to fool you little people into thinking that a single payer system will be bad. Little people like you are so easy to fool. Little people also don’t realize that a single payer system is the ONLY system that would allow little people (as an entire country) to negotiate better health care prices. Little people don’t realize that the Medical Cartels already know that. And that is the reason why the Medical Cartels spend so much PAC money from the hospitals and doctors lobbying against a single payer system. Some little people say that a single payer system would cost you little people more. But if that were true, then wouldn’t the hospitals and doctors WANT that extra money? Yes they would. So why do the Medical Cartels lobby against a single payer system? It’s because the Medical Cartels know it would allow little people to negotiate better health care prices. And that’s what the Medical Cartels are afraid of. Period.
    But us big wigs at insurance companies, hospitals, and pharmacy companies don’t ever need to worry about health care no matter what it costs. We get our health care paid for one way or another by you little people. And we get the little people that work at our companies to contribute to our PACs. And us big wigs say it’s to protect the little peoples’ jobs. But in reality it would be in the little peoples’ best interest to NOT contribute to the PAC. Again, little people are so easily fooled. I won’t ever have to worry about losing my job with so many little people being brain washed by the Medical Cartels’ PAC money. Not only that, the Medical Cartels’ PAC money is used to elect so many republicans that will never allow a single payer system. Republicans have always fought against any meaningful health care reform. But that’s what our Medical Cartels’ PACs pay them for. Politicians can be bought so easily.
    Pretty soon the only people that will be able to afford health care is us big wigs. And that’s the way it should be. We don’t want you little people using up the resources when we need them. And once again, I thank you little people for capping my SS tax at the $113,700 level. Now I only pay 1.2% SS tax and you little people pay 6.2%. Also, thank you for extending my tax breaks. I’m using the extra money on my vacation houses.

    September 17, 2013 at 11:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Steve

      Exactly how does this pertain to the story?

      September 18, 2013 at 09:19 | Report abuse |
  7. awaiting moderationGHGH

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    POR QUE EN LATINO AMERICA Y ESTADOS UNIDOS TENEMOS LEYES CONFICATORIAS DE DERECHOS EN PAISES DEMOCRATICOS O PROXIMAMENTE COMUNISTAS.
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    POR QUE EN LA ALEMANIA NAZI SE TENIAN EXPERIMENTOS BASADOS EN MANIPULACION HUMANA, OBTENCION DE INFORMACION DE HUMANOS, IMAGENES, PENSAMIENTOS Y SONIDOS.

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    QUE HACE MK ULTRA EN ESTOS DIAS REVISE INTERNET LOS CASOS DE VOICE IN TO SKULL EN LATINO AMERICA.

    September 17, 2013 at 21:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Fred

    What about An@l sex? Is that healthy? I hear teens are doing that often.

    October 2, 2013 at 12:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Chad

    Checkout http://www.rfsupplements.com for supplement and weight loss products at low prices

    October 15, 2013 at 11:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. marilyn

    All they have to do is get gluten out of their diets, our wheat, corn and rye is not the same due to GMO's , we need to fight those laws that prevent us from knowing what is made with GMO's which is most of our breads now. We can fight it and maybe we will see things get better for our young people, we owe it to them. It is not their fault, it is ours for letting these companies change our food. We can fight it by facing it and stop buying everything that has wheat, corn, and soy.

    November 30, 2013 at 11:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. steveegrant

    yes obbesity is side effect to much eating.http://www.healthandwealthover40.com/

    December 30, 2013 at 02:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. robocop12

    First off, using a number or percentage to identify if a person is overweight or obese is not right or accurate. Let's say for example that a person is about 5'11 and weighs 222 pounds (height and weight of Alfred Morris). On the BMI chart he would be listed as obese. Just by taking a look at Alfred Morris we know that he is not obese, but the numbers seem to tell us that he is so he surely must be. There are tons of people just like him who are not tall but weigh a lot because of their muscle mass. A person's BMI does not accurately depict if he/she is obese. I know many people who sit in front of the television and eat junk food everyday but do not gain a single pound. That's because their body handles the junk food different from a person who would gain weight by sitting in front of a television and eat junk food. The person that does not gain weight would be seen as healthy on the BMI scale. Maybe the teenagers that have been exercising and eating right can't lose the weight because that is their body's optimal weight. There is nothing they can do more that will change how their body handles the food they eat. They are at a healthy weight for their body. Not everyone's body works the same way, so a person that eats a terrible diet every day and looks skinny should not be known as healthy and a person that looks like they eat a terrible diet but actually eats a healthy diet should not be known as obese or unhealthy. We are all different sizes and there's nothing we can do to change that. We should all be accepting of our different sizes instead of judging someone who is larger.

    October 31, 2014 at 22:16 | Report abuse | Reply

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.