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Teens Eating Slightly Healthier

Teen Girl eating an Apple with a BookAmerican teens are eating slightly more fruits and vegetables and fewer sweets, while upping the amount of activity they do, according to a recent study that offers a glimmer of positive findings for improvements among adolescent’s health and their future cancer risk.

The study, published in Pediatrics, focused on adolescent’s eating and other lifestyle habits, which may affect their current and future health. For cancer risk specifically, research suggests that diet and weight as a teenager – when the body is developing – may play a role in cancer decades later.

In this study, researchers asked three different groups of 6th through 10th graders questions about their eating and exercise habits over eight years. The first group – about 15,000 students – answered the survey questions during the 2001-2002 school year. Four years later a second group of students answered the same questions; and four years later the third group. All the groups were representative of US adolescents nationwide.

Throughout the years, all the teens were getting less than the recommended 60 minutes of activity fewer than five days a week. But the latest group of teens came slightly closer to getting the recommended 60 minutes of activity closer to five days a week compared to the students eight years earlier.

Fruits and vegetables intake edged up slightly over the eight years, and 2010 teens were eating slightly less sweets every week.

But BMI did not show the same improvements. The percent of adolescents who were overweight increased slightly from 2001 to four years later, then leveled out by 2010.

Nimptsch K et al. "Dietary intakes of red meat, poultry, and fish during high school and risk of colorectal adenomas in women." Am J Epidemiol. 2013 Jul 15;178(2):172-83. Epub 2013 Jun 19.

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