Teenagers across the country are turning off the television, getting outside to exercise and filling their plates with more fruits and vegetables, according to information published in the October journal Pediatrics.
Between 2001 and 2009, teens also ate fewer sweets and ate breakfast more often. According to an American Academy of Pediatrics press release, the authors believe it helps explain the leveling off of the childhood obesity rate.
Researchers at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development surveyed more than 9,000 students in grades 6 through 10 about their behaviors and their body mass index (BMI).
They found that BMIs increased from 2001 to 2006, but didn’t change significantly from 2006 to 2010. They also noted healthy behaviors from both genders, all ages and ethnicities.
However, boys said they exercised more than girls, but also played more video games and watched more television. Girls reported more computer time for social media, homework and browsing the web.
Girls said they ate more fruits and vegetables than boys, but also indulged in more sweets and skipped breakfast more often. Boys reported higher BMIs than girls.
The study’s authors suggest that pediatricians provide more tailored advice for boys and girls.
Federal government guidelines say that teenagers should get an hour of moderate to vigorous exercise every day, with three days of vigorous to intense exercise.
Teen girls should aim for 1.5 cups of fruit and 2 – 2.5 cups of vegetables daily. Teen boys should eat 1.5 – 2 cups of fruit a day and 2.5 – 3 cups of veggies. Teens should always eat breakfast.