Study shows US teens are getting healthier

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September 16, 2013, 6:18 am
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(NECN/NBC News: Erika Edwards) – There’s good news regarding teenagers: they're exercising more, eating better and now there's evidence those healthier choices are paying off.

All this time spent on the playing field or playground and away from the television looks like it's beginning to make a real difference in the rate of childhood obesity.

"That increasing prevalence of obesity is beginning to level off," says Dr. Ronald Iannotti with National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Iannotti and colleagues at the NIH looked at data on thousands of teens between 2001 and 2010.

They found previously rising rates of body mass index began to stabilize in 2006.

So, how'd the teens do it?

Thirteen-year-old Janea McInnis hits the nail on the head:

"All you have to do is just go outside and play."

She's a perfect illustration of kids getting healthier.

Through a program at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, she found ways to encourage her family to make healthier food choices.

"... A lot more milk, not as much soda."

The study found teens are exercising more and though they fall short of the recommended five servings of fruit and vegetables a day, teens are eating better.

Doctors say the result should be healthier adults with a lowered risk for obesity and heart disease.

"Although you may not get kids with heart attacks, the damage is beginning while they're kids, while they're young," says Dr. Iannotti.

While parents might agree some things about teenagers will never change...

"I like to walk alone because it's kinda embarrassing... "

... At least their health appears to be changing for the better.

Some gender differences were found in the study; boys get more physical activity while girls eat more fruits and vegetables.

Tags: obesity, National Institutes of health, Erika Edwards, dr. ronald iannotti, janea mcinnis, teen health
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