Childhood obesity has been increasing over the past several decades. To monitor trends in obesity and in behaviors that contribute to weight gain, researchers in the Health Behavior Branch of the Division of Intramural Population Health Research analyzed data from a nationally representative sample of 35,000 kids ages 11 to 16, collected in 2001, 2005, and 2009. Kids reported on their diets, physical activity, height, and weight.
The Researchers found that (PMID: 24043281):
- The average body mass index (BMI) increased over the 9-year period, but did not change significantly between 2005 and 2009.
- The scientists asked questions about physical activity, dietary intake, video game playing, and computer use, and they found significant increases in several healthy behaviors.
- The number of days during which children got at least 60 minutes of physical activity increased, although still remained short of recommended levels.
- More children reported eating breakfast, and there was greater daily consumption of fruits and vegetables over time.
- At the same time, the researchers saw significant decreases in some unhealthy behaviors.
- Television viewing fell over the entire study period, and consumption of sweets and sweetened beverages also decreased.
- Video game playing and computer use, however, was unchanged.