As of June 25, 2013 according to a federal government study only half of American youth get the suggested amount of physical activity and less than a third eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables each day.
Nearly 10,000 students aged 11 to 16 in 39 states were surveyed. Researchers found that only half exercised for five or more days a week and fewer than one in every three ate fruits and vegetables daily.
Study author Ronald Iannotti, of the prevention research branch of the U.S. National Institute of the Child Health and Human Development, stated in an institute news release, “The students showed a surprising variability in eating patterns.” He also mentioned that about 74% of the students did not have a healthy pattern. The students were asked to describe their body image, emotional health, and satisfaction with life. The students diet and exercise habits were classified into three general categories: unhealthful (26%), healthful (27%), and typical (47%).
The typical groups were less likely to exercise for five or more days a week or eat fruits and vegetable at least once a day. This group was most likely to spend time watching television, play video games or on the computer than the students in the healthful group, but less likely to do so than the students in the unhealthful group. The typical group infrequently ate fruit and vegetables, but they also infrequently consumed junk food like chips, French fries, sweets, or soda. There were more likely to be overweight or obese and unhappy about their appearance of their bodies than the other two groups.
The unhealthful group had consumed the most junk food and was also more likely to watch TV, play video games, and use a computer for more than two hours a day than the other two groups. Although all the unhealthy food they consumed, this group was more likely to be underweight and actually needed to put on some weight. This group was also more likely to report symptoms of depression and poor physical health, like backaches, stomachaches, headaches, or feeling dizzy.
In the healthful group about 65% of the students exercised for five or more days a week, which was the highest rate of the three groups. This group was less likely to sit in front of a screen and consume junk food. They were most likely to report that they were eating fruits and vegetables daily. They also had the lowest rates of depression, but had the highest life satisfaction ratings.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans suggests that children and teens should get one hour or more of moderate or vigorous aerobic physical activity a day, which includes intense exercise at least three days a week.
This is in reference to Three in Four U.S. Kids Missing Out on Healthy Lifestyle.