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Study: 15-Year-Olds are Couch Potatoes

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Pediatrican Dr. Cara Natterson responds to the new study that finds 15-year-olds are more inactive than ever.

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Last week, with all of the talk about cholesterol-lowering drugs for young children, many people missed the main point of that recommendation: Kids need to eat better and exercise more. Now, just a week later, comes the study to prove it. There is a fundamental shift in the preteen years with a huge majority of teenagers leaving the sports field or the gym in exchange for the computer or the couch.

The study, published in JAMA, described fewer than a third of 15-year-old study participants meeting minimal exercise standards on weekdays (and only about one in six exercising on weekends).

It seems clear that American teenagers are starting bad habits earlier than many thought. The computer, video games, and television provide reasons to sit rather than move. Other studies suggest that safety concerns keep kids inside (rather than playing outside), and this contributes to the problem as well.

We have an obesity epidemic in this country. In order for adults to eat well and exercise, the habits really should be ingrained during childhood. With fewer than 3% of 15-year-olds getting a couple of hours of exercise per day, we have a lot of work to do. Otherwise, what we perceive to be a national epidemic now will be nothing compared to what we see when these teenagers become full-fledged adults.

To ask Dr. Cara a question, click here.

Dr. Cara Natterson, author of Your Toddler: Head To Toe, is a pediatrician and mother of 2. To buy a copy of her book, click here

Parents of teens: Do your kids get enough exercise?


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1 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jeanne July 22, 2008, 2:16 PM

This trend is really, really disturbing. It seems like our society’s headed towards becoming a nation of sick, dumb and obese people.


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