Monday, September 16, 2013

Adolescent Obesity-Related Behaviors: What Do the Trends Show?

Given the high prevalence of teen obesity that we have observed over the past decade, one wonders whether adolescent physical activity, sedentary behaviors, and dietary behaviors have gone up or down during the same time period.  Well stop wondering, and read the article by Iannotti and Wang (doi: 10.1542/peds.2013-1488) we are early releasing this week.  The authors looked at nationally representative samples of students in grades 6 to 10 at three different time points between 2001 and 2009 and administered a national survey assessing their physical activity, sedentary and dietary behaviors, and body mass index (BMI) during the school year.

The results may surprise you and even make you smile when you see that the trend direction of obesity-related behaviors appears to be changing for the better, although BMI does not.  So maybe all those articles and studies we have been publishing indicating the benefits of physical activity, nutrition, and less sedentary behaviors such as TV watching and video-game playing are having an effect and it’s just too early to see that effect play out in BMI itself.  Weigh the data for yourself and then keep educating your teen patients so they too become part of the positive trends that will hopefully decrease the prevalence of obesity in this country.