Are our teens getting enough exercise? Do they eat a healthy diet?
WHAT DOES RESEARCH SAY?
A recent research study from the National Institute of Health shows that only 50%, nearly half, of all adolescents in the United States are participating in physical activities five or more days a week and only one out of every four adolescents eat fruits and vegetables every day.
WHO AND WHAT WAS SURVEYED?
The survey studied 10,000 students from 39 different states ranging from eleven to sixteen years of age. Students were questioned about their daily physical activity, the amount of time that they spent using a computer or watched television, their emotional and psychological health, and their diet and nutritional habits. Researchers determined if their was a correlation between emotional health and physical activity.
WHAT WERE THE FINDINGS OF THE SURVEY?
Researchers determined that only one in every four adolescents (25%) were demonstrating healthy patterns of high physical activity combined with eating lots of fruits and vegetables and lower intake of snack foods. Those who were exhibiting healthy life-style patterns also were more healthy emotionally and psychologically.
Nearly half, 47% of the teenagers were engaging in a small amount of physical activity and consumed a diet lacking in fruits and vegetables.
Dr. Ann M. Davis, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Kansas Medical Center said that teenagers today are “extremely sedentary and they have terrible diets for a variety of reasons.”
“Unhealthful” students comprised about 26% of those surveyed, and tended to spend most of their time in front of the computer, eating more sugary snacks and less fruits and vegetables than others, and were most likely to be underweight and have symptoms of depression. Early unhealthy lifestyles can lead to heart disease, depression, high cholesterol, obesity and other serious health problems later in life.
Of the 27% who were determined to be “healthful students,” nearly 65% reported exercising more than five days a week, and least likely to spend significant time in front of computer screens or to eat sweets, soft drinks and packaged snack foods that are high in trans fats.
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
Children naturally like to move and be physically involved. Parents can help by turning off the television, limiting computer access, or arranging for and scheduling physical activities such as swimming, tennis, basketball, dance, etc. Parents can remove packaged foods and sugary snacks and soft drinks from the home and replace them with organic healthy foods such 100% fruit juices, fresh fruits and vegetables, and raw nuts. Parents are role models and by changing their lifestyles and diets, they can encourage and prevent children and adolescents from having serious health problems as adults. However, this must start at an early age so that when children become older teens and young adults they will make wise, healthy choices.