Soda and TV Pack Pounds on Teens

The combination is linked to adolescent obesity, study finds

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WEDNESDAY, Sept. 10, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Too much television and too many soft drinks may be contributing to the epidemic of obese American adolescents.

That claim comes courtesy of a study in the September issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

The study included a few hundred boys and girls in grades 6 and 7 from three schools in Santa Barbara, Calif. The students filled out a questionnaire about lifestyle, weight, eating and exercise habits. The height and weight of each student was measured and their body mass index (BMI) calculated by the researchers.

Overall, 35.5 percent of the students had a BMI at or above the 85th percentile, and half of those students (17.4 percent) had a BMI at or above the 95th percentile. The rates were higher among Hispanic students and lower among Asian students compared to non-Hispanic white students.

The study found a significant association between BMI and hours of television watched and daily soft drink consumption. Among students who watched less than two hours of television per night, 26.2 percent had BMIs at or above the 85th percentile, compared to 47.1 percent of students who watched three or more hours of television per night.

Among students who drank less than three soft drinks per day, 33.2 percent had BMIs at or above the 85th percentile, compared to 58.1 percent of students who drank three or more soft drinks a day.

"Our analysis indicates that increased levels of television viewing and soda intake are associated with a higher prevalence of overweight and obesity among sixth- and seventh-grade school children, and overweight can lead to increased risk of developing chronic health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes," the authors write.

"Interventions that promote healthy lifestyle behaviors such as physical activity and limiting high-fat, high-calorie foods and beverages may be effective in reducing both the prevalence of obesity and the emerging epidemic of type 2 diabetes in children."

More information

Here's where you can get advice for parents about childhood obesity.

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives, news release, Sept. 8, 2003

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