How do today’s teenagers compare in health to teenagers of a few decades ago? Not very well according to a National Institutes of Health study. A recent article noted, Most teens not the picture of health. Unlike years ago, the typical teenager in America is not out playing basketball, baseball, riding bikes, hiking, walking to a part-time job. Too many teens today are inside playing video games, watching TV, or cruising the internet. Not only are they not outside and exercising, their diets are also lacking.
The study from the National Institutes of Health studied 10,000 teens in 39 states ages 11-16. They found that only 50% of today’s teens participate in physical activity for 5 or more days during the week. As to their diet only 1 in 3 teenagers ate fruits and vegetables every day. This is compared to the recommended amount of at least 5 fruits and vegetables a day and many teenagers aren’t eating any fruits and vegetables on a daily basis.
So are any teenagers exhibiting a healthy lifestyle? The study noted only 1 in 4 teens exercises 5 times a week, eats fruits and vegetables every day and eats less snack foods.
The article quoted Dr. Ann Davis, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Kansas Medical Center stating; Today’s teens are “remarkably unhealthy. They are extremely sedentary and they have terrible diets for a variety of reasons.”
Some other findings from the study:
26% of teens spent too much time in front of computer screens, had the worst eating habits, ate more sweets and less fruits and vegetables than other teens in the study. This affected their health as these teens had more depression and poor physical health.
27% of students exhibited healthier behaviors. They spent considerably less time in front of the computer screen, consumed less sweets, sodas, and chips, and most exercised more than 5 days a week.
So what is a parent of teens supposed to do?
- Exercise – encourage your teen to participate in sports, go for a walk, get outside and mow the lawn, walk the dog. Have your teen earn screen time. 30 minutes outside exercising and they get 30 minutes of screen time.
- 5 Fruits and vegetables a day – we all should eat a minimum of 5 fruits and vegetables a day. Buy some real juice, make smoothies with real fruit, have fresh fruit on the counter. Pack their lunch with raising, apples, carrot sticks. Include fruits as part of their snack. Serve 2 fruits/vegetables with every meal.
- MyPlate – Have your teen go to MyPlate.gov and look up what they should be eating to be healthy.
Source: Most Teens Not the Picture of Health, Free Lance Star, July 7, 2013