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    Archive for the ‘teenagers’ Category

    Numbers Game: Answer

    biggulpBy the time they are 14 years old, 52 percent of male adolescents in the United States drink 24 or more ounces of soda each day.

    Source: Institute of Medicine

    Which means, that, in a one-year period, these teenagers are consuming anywhere from 520 to 730 cans of soda (‘520 cans’ assumes sodas are only consumed on weekdays; ‘730 cans’ assumes sodas are a daily habit).

    FYI: that’s a minimum of 74,360 tacked-on empty calories (and as many as 104,390 extra sugar-laden calories) in a single year.

    For the record, I’m not throwing stones — nor do I live in a glass house.  Throughout seventh and eighth grade, I would often drink as many as six cans of soda per day.  Although I was never overweight, I recall having uneven energy levels and generally feeling like a high fructose corn syrup-laden blob.  So, if anything, I’m throwing rubber balls from my glass house.  You know, as a non-destructive, but awareness-raising “heads up” to those going down a similar path.

    What’s most interesting about the statistic that drives this post is that these 24 ounces are generally attributed to the consumption of one large — or, in some cases, “medium” — soda with a meal (as opposed to multiple cans throughout the day).

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    Numbers Game: Man, That’s A Lot of Cans

    By the time they are 14 years old, ____ percent of male adolescents in the United States drink 24 or more ounces of soda each day.

    Source: Institute of Medicine

    a) 33
    b) 52
    c) 41
    d) 60

    Leave your guess in the “comments” section and come back on Friday for the answer.

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    Numbers Game: Answer

    According to a 2007 study published in Health Economics, the percentage of high schools in the United States offering physical education on a daily basis declined from 41.6 percent in 1991 to 28.4 percent in 2003.

    In that same time period — in which massive budget cuts caused many school districts to succumb to dire economic conditions — the number of vending machines in high schools increased by almost 100 percent.

    You don’t need an ‘A’ in algebra to figure out that is a worrisome equation.

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    Numbers Game: Fleeting Fitness

    According to a 2007 study published in Health Economics, the percentage of high schools in the United States offering physical education on a daily basis declined from 41.6 percent in 1991 to __________ percent in 2003.

    a) 34.9
    b) 38.2

    c) 28.4
    d) 30.7

    Leave your guess in the “comments” section and come back on Tuesday for the answer.

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    In The News: In The Zone

    Today’s New York Times reports the conclusion of an eight-year-long study of millions of schoolchildren completed by economists at the University of California and Columbia University: “ninth graders whose schools are within a block of a fast-food outlet are more likely to be obese than students whose schools are a quarter of a mile or more away.”

    This study is particularly significant since it adjusted for variables like income, education, and race, thereby making it easier to accurately pinpoint the effect of fast food restaurant proximity to weight.

    More specifically, “obesity rates were 5 percent higher among the ninth graders whose schools were within one-tenth of a mile of a pizza, burger or other popular fast-food outlet, compared with students attending schools farther away from fast-food stores.”

    In a not-at-all surprising move, the National Restaurant Association is shrugging this off since “it did not take individual diet and exercise into account.” The argument falls rather flat when you consider that the location of these fast food restaurants clearly had an effect on students’ diets.

    I have long been a supporter of zoning laws regarding fast food restaurants and schools, and this only strengthens my belief.

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    Numbers Game: Answer

    92 to 98 percent of peak bone mass (the period by which all bone formation occurs) is achieved by age 20.

    High peak bone density is one factor that helps decrease the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures later in life.

    This is precisely why having adequate intakes of calcium — as well as being physically active — during childhood and adolescence is crucial.

    The more “bone healthy” the diet is during childhood and adolescence (particularly by consuming sufficient amounts of calcium, vitamin K, vitamin D, phosphorus, and magnesium), the higher peak bone mass levels are.

    This is not simply a matter of having your child pop a Flintstones chewable vitamin, though. Whole foods containing these nutrients are far superior sources.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Carbohydrate Needs

    In Eat This, Not That For Kids, there is a table titled “What Our Kids Need Each Day” that shows what amount of different nutrients children should be getting on a daily basis.

    For carbohydrate, every age group (from 1 to 18 years) has the same carbohydrate requirement: 130 grams.

    That seem fishy to me?

    — Taryn (last name withheld)
    Houston, TX

    Uh oh. That figure is ripe for misinterpretation.

    It would be much more accurate to express it as “at least 130 grams.”

    Without those two important words, I can imagine many people thinking they are not supposed to feed their child more than that amount of carbohydrates each day.

    The 130 gram figure is important because it is the minimum amount of carbohydrate needed each day to spare body proteins.

    This means that by consuming 130 grams of carbohydrates (520 calories’ worth), you are ensuring that protein is used for building and maintaining muscle tissue, rather than for energy.

    That figure is also calculated to be the amount necessary to support the production of red blood cells as well as keep the central nervous system working as efficiently as possible.

    A much better recommendation is to get anywhere from 45 to 60 percent of your daily calories from carbohydrates.

    Readers, here is an example to help you figure out how many grams of carbohydrate you should be aiming for each day:

    Let’s assume you need 2,200 calories a day.

    Some simple multiplication lets us know that a range of 45 to 60 percent of that figure is equal to 990 – 1,320 calories.

    To figure out how many grams of carbohydrates those calorie values equal, divide them by 4 (remember, there are 4 calories in each gram of carbohydrate.)

    Therefore, someone consuming 2,200 calories a day should take in anywhere from 247 to 330 grams of carbohydrates a day.

    PS: Taryn just completed her Dietetic Internship at the University of Houston. If you are interested in learning what future dietitians learn in their DIs, please visit her blog!

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    In The News: Get In Shape! Yes, Sir!

    Here’s one example of childhood and adolescent obesity having consequences one might not initially think of: “the Army has been dismissing so many overweight applicants that its top recruiter, trying to keep troop numbers up in wartime, is considering starting a program to transform chubby trainees into svelte soldier,”reports The Washington Post.

    Obesity tops the list of reasons preventing applicants from entering the military — more so than “a lack of a GED or high school diploma, misconduct or criminal behavior, and other health issues such as eye or ear problems.”

    Recruiters estimate that 30 percent of all applicants are considered, pardon the pun, “unfit” as a result of their overweight or obese status.

    And it’s not just the military feeling this crunch — firefighting department across the country are finding themselves with an increasingly larger number of young, overweight applicants unable to pass the necessary fitness tests.

    And so come to the usual question: how do we remedy this situation?

    We know that obesity is a multi-layered issue that calls, among other things, targeted public policy, education, and access to healthy foods.

    In the meantime, how about mandatory physical education through twelfth grade?

    The “stay active” part of the formula appears to be missing in too many places.

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    In The News: Sweet Detention

    An article in yesterday’s New York Times reports on the nutritional metamorphosis taking place in several hundred school districts across the country.

    A California law that passed in 2005 and went into effect last July set “strict new state nutrition standards for public schools, [requiring] that snacks sold during the school day [including at bake sales] contain no more than 35 percent sugar by weight and derive no more than 35 percent of their calories from fat and no more than 10 percent of their calories from saturated fat.”

    Some schools are taking this further and applying it to birthday celebrations in the classroom.

    “In Guilford, CT, the school district’s health advisory committee has decided that birthday parties belong at home. At A. W. Cox Elementary, birthdays are celebrated with an extra 15 minutes of recess, special pencils or a “birthday book club” with commemorative inserts.”

    I applaud these innovative concepts.

    While there is nothing wrong with celebrating a birthday at school with cupcakes, I find it critical to instill in children that it is possible to enjoy these moments without highly caloric food.

    After all, it is precisely this behavior that is later replicated in adulthood and can become problematic.

    I am consistently surprised by the amount of people who will eat a slice of cake handed to them at an office birthday celebration even if they are not hungry or in the mood for cake.

    It can be very difficult to undo the “you always eat a slice of cake at a birthday party” reflex when it is perpetuated several times a year from preschool on.

    At the same time, a few of the images and anecdotes shared in this story worry me.

    First, the mention that “Piedmont High School [in Piedmont, CA] banned homemade brownies and cookies” from bake sales.

    Does this mean commercial varieties are allowed? If so, what is the logic behind that? I would much rather have a cookie simply made with flour, butter, sugar, and vanilla than one out of a box listing 20 ingredients.

    If the lack of information about included ingredients (and amounts) is troublesome, why not cut up each brownie square into two triangular halves and sell them that way?

    Lastly, am I supposed to believe that whatever else is being sold at these bake sales is somehow healthier than a brownie or a cookie? A lemon square or oatmeal raisin cookie can have just as many calories, sugar, and saturated fat.

    Then we have a photograph of teacher Anna X. L. Wong of Berkeley, CA, reviewing “good foods” versus “bad foods” with her kindergarteners.

    In the photograph, we can see that candy, cake, bubblegum, ice cream, and soda fall in the “bad” category, while a variety of fruits and vegetables make the “good” column.

    I am not arguing that candy, ice cream, and soda are healthy (although I do think that labeling bubblegum as bad is ridiculous), but I really hate the overly simplistic good food/bad food dichotomy.

    I find that it often leads to obsessive thinking, guilt, and can inaccurately be perceived as “foods that should never be eaten.”

    I would find it much more helpful if kids learned about foods from a consumption model (“foods to eat every day/once a week/only occassionally.”)

    What confuses me most is that many of these schools so intent on banning homemade baked goods for “health concerns” still allow sugary sports drinks and vitamin-enhanced drinks (which often contain just as much sugar as soda) to be stocked in their vending machines.

    I guess it’s hard to turn down those companies when they offer to build you a football field, huh?

    Very interested in hearing your thoughts.

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    In The News: Do Soft Drink Bans At Schools Work?

    Today’s New York Times features a study published in the September issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, which The Times briefly summarizes as demonstrating that “soft drink consumption of children at schools where it was sold and children at schools where it was not… did not [show] a big difference.”

    In fact, approximately “4 percent fewer children from the no-soda schools said they did not drink it.”

    So is this it? Has legislation to ban soft drinks from schools failed?

    Not quite.

    I find it odd that this study only focused on elementary school children.

    After all, the “soda problem” mostly revolves around teenagers, many of whom get an average of 15 percent of their daily calories from soft drinks.

    I think this same study conducted in middle and high schools would very likely show more positive numbers.

    Forget sodas for a minute and just answer this.

    Who is more likely to make a pit stop — and have loose change to use — at a hallway vending machine? A first grader walking back from art class with his teacher in single file or a 10th grader with two minutes to spare on his way to geometry class?

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    In The News: Adolescent Nutrition (And Small Bites!)

    Last week, Terri Coles of Reuters.com contacted me to see if we could briefly chat about the nutrition status of teenage girls in the United States.

    This has gained status as a “hot topic” due to a new government program called Bodyworks, which sets to teach healthy eating behaviors to female adolescents across the country.

    Read her excellent article (published today) summarizing the issues, and our conversation, right here.

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    In The News: Adolescent Nutrition (And Small Bites!)

    Last week, Terri Coles of Reuters.com contacted me to see if we could briefly chat about the nutrition status of teenage girls in the United States.

    This has gained status as a “hot topic” due to a new government program called Bodyworks, which sets to teach healthy eating behaviors to female adolescents across the country.

    Read her excellent article (published today) summarizing the issues, and our conversation, right here.

    Share

    Numbers Game: I Want My Junk TV!

    According to a 2007 study by health policy research agency The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, ______ percent of televised food ads aimed at teenagers are for “candy, snacks, sugary cereals, or fast food”.

    a) 64
    b) 53
    c) 89

    d) 72

    Leave your guess in the “comments” section and come back on Thursday for the answer!

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    Numbers Game: Frito-Lay High

    An April 2007 investigation by the Institute of Medicine revealed that ________ percent of high schools in the United States sell “junk food” (high-calorie, high-fat, sugary snacks and/or beverages) either in vending machines or snack stores.


    a) 71
    b) 98
    c) 87
    d) 75

    Leave your guess in the “comments” section and check back on Sunday for the answer!

    Share

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