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USA’s child obesity epidemic might slowly be coming to an end. A recent study reveals that adolescents are on their way to living healthier lives by eating more vegetables and fruits, ditching junk food high in sugar, getting more active and watching less TV.
Researchers Ronald Iannotti Ph.D and Jing Wan Ph.D studied 35,000 young adults aged 11 to 16 from 2001 to 2009 while with the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, Md. Their report, published in the October issue of Pediatrics, shows that the average Body Mass Index (BMI) for teenagers dropped between 2005 to 2009.
“It’s only recently, in the past decade, that some studies have begun to see some leveling off [in behavior that causes obesity],” said Iannotti.
This leveling off is linked to the increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, which nearly doubled from two to four days per week to five to six days per week over the course of a decade, reports Think Progress.
Additionally, teens are eating breakfast more frequently, a meal long hailed to be one of the most important of anyone’s day, and their sugary drink intake has fallen by 20 percent.
Eating better plays a significant factor in one’s well-being and in maintaining a healthy weight but there is one more element that needs to be added to the equation to ensure the most ideal outcomes and that’s exercise. Paired with healthy eating, teen obesity rates also dropped thanks to an increase in physical activity. The number of days teens exercised for at least 60 minutes went up from 4.33 days per week to 4.53 days per week which correlated with a drop in sedentary activities like watching TV.
These changes may seem small but they are nonetheless encouraging and show that on the whole people are becoming more aware of how to better care for their bodies.
The study’s authors are happy with the efforts being put in at schools, communities and hospitals to lower obesity rates but they also feel that this is just the beginning and that a lot of work will still need to be done, reports USA Today.
Of course, change will be gradual and will require reinforcement at home and through stronger health policies at the local, state and national levels. In the mean time though, we can stop being so sad about the U.S.’s “obesity epidemic” and start celebrating the improvements, however small they may be, and then continue onwards to keep up the good work.
Image source: Andy Weers / Flickr