Study finds kids eating healthier; BMI improves

New report reveals good news in the war against childhood obesity


A new study finds kids are eating healthier, watching less television and may be starting to lose weight.

"Over four decades obesity trends in the United States continued to rise and finally we have a break. It's actually stabilizing. This research study is looking at BMI (Body Mass Index) and adolescents and for once, it's not going up. So, this is really big news," said Tara Harwood, R.D.  She did not take part in the study but is a pediatric registered dietitian at Cleveland Clinic Children's.

In the study, researchers surveyed more than 9,000 kids in grades 6 through 10. They found from 2001 to 2009, kids increased their physical activity, ate more fruits and vegetables, ate breakfast more often, watched less TV and ate fewer sweets.

And although BMI percentile increased between 2001 and 2006, there was no significant change in BMI between 2006 and 2010, which suggests the obesity trend may be stabilizing.

"Sedentary behavior such as sitting in front of the TV or playing video games, those actually decreased while positive behaviors increased, such as more physical exercise and more fruit and vegetable consumption," explained Harwood.

A closer look at the numbers shows boys reporting more physical activity than girls, but also more video game playing and TV-watching.

Girls reported more computer time for social media, homework and internet use.
girls ate more fruits and vegetables than boys, but also more sweets and fewer breakfasts.

Harwood says parents and pediatricians can use this information to put together a plan.

"With boys, lets focus on how do we expand their fruit and vegetable intake? How do we get them to eat more while decreasing some time on the video game or girls, how can we get them to start moving a little bit more," she said.

You can read more about this study published today in the online journal Pediatrics.