Teens who are most physically active and consume the most calories are the leanest, researchers say.
"The take-home message would be to encourage your child to do as much vigorous physical activity as possible, including at least one hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity on a daily basis," says Dr. Paule Barbeau, exercise physiologist at the Medical College of Georgia and corresponding author on the paper in the April issue of The International Journal of Obesity. "This allows your child to eat more calories, which encourages more healthy eating habits while remaining in energy balance." Unfortunately, even the leanest of the 661 healthy black and white Augusta teens didn't have great eating habits, researchers note.
In fact, researchers couldn't compare the diet quality of leaner and chubbier teens because overall, it was so poor, says Inger Stallmann-Jorgensen, research dietitian and the paper's first author.
"The majority of the kids did not have enough whole-grain food, they did not have enough low-fat dairy products, they did not have enough fruits and vegetables," Ms. Stallmann-Jorgensen says. Instead, most days were packed with starches, salty snacks, soft drinks and "fruit-ades" such as lemonade that didn't actually contain fruit juice.
"Eating habits formed during our youth tend to stay with us into adulthood, so this does not bode well for prevention of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease," Ms. Stallmann-Jorgensen notes.
Researchers queried participants about their physical activity and food intake over at least four 24-hour periods and calculated body fat percentages on all participants. They performed magnetic resonance imaging exams on 434 study participants to measure visceral adipose tissue. Visceral adiposity, found in and around organs in the abdominal cavity, is closely linked to general obesity but is considered the worst fat because it is more metabolically acti
Contact: Toni Baker
Medical College of Georgia