When I was a teenager, I have to admit that worrying about getting enough healthy foods in my diet wasn't a top priority for me or many of my friends. Apparently, teen eating habits haven’t changed much since those days.
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed data from nearly 10,800 ninth-to-twelfth graders who took part in the National Youth Physical Activity and Nutrition Study 2010. And they found that, on average, teens only ate fruits and veggies 1.2 times a day.
This is way below what experts recommend: Teen girls should eat 3 servings of fruit and 4 servings of vegetables every day and teen boys should eat 4 servings of fruit and 5 servings of vegetables every day.
So how did we fare? Not so well, says the CDC.
The teens who ate the fewest fruits and veggies were Black and Latino teenagers. According to HealthDay, the CDC also found the following:
• The median daily fruit consumption was much higher among males than females, and much higher among 9th grade students than among students in grades 10 and 12.
• Slightly more than one in four (28.5 percent) of the high school students ate fruit less than once a day, and 33.2 percent ate vegetables less than once a day.
• Only 16.8 percent of students ate fruit at least four times a day and only 11.2 percent ate vegetables at least four times a day, the study found.
• The researchers said their findings indicate that most high school students don't meet the daily fruit and vegetable recommendations for teens who do less than 30 minutes of physical activity a day: 1.5 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables for females and 2 cups of fruit and 3 cups of vegetables for males.
• Teens who get more physical activity need to eat even more fruits and vegetables, the researchers noted.
There were no reasons given for these racial disparities, but the researchers hope that more schools across the country step up and provide their students with healthier food options that include integrating vegetables and fruits into their menus and teaching students about the importance of living a healthier lifestyle.
All of these steps are crucial in battling the childhood obesity problem in our community.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 24 percent of African-American girls ages 6 to 11 are overweight and 19 percent of African-American boys in the same age group are overweight. In terms of Black teenagers, the numbers are almost the same.
However, 22.4 percent of African-American children ages 6 to 17 are obese, which is defined as having a body mass index higher than 30.
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