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Child Obesity Rates Going Up
Date:3/2/2010

oods that lacked a park or recreation center, and in neighborhoods that parents didn't perceive as safe.

Snacking patterns may also be playing a big role in the pediatric obesity epidemic, according to the second study. Researchers Barry Popkin and Carmen Piernas, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, looked at data on more than 31,000 American children from 1977 to 2006.

They found that in 1977-1978, 74 percent of children aged 2 to 18 said they snacked on foods outside of regular mealtime, but by 2003-2006 that number had jumped to 98 percent. The biggest jump occurred with salty treats such as crackers or potato chips, but candy was a favorite snack as well.

Overall, kids consumed 168 more calories from snack foods in 2003-2006 compared to 1977-1978, and the increase was greatest among the very young -- those aged 2 to 6.

"Kids still eat three meals a day, but they're also loading up on high-calorie junk food that contains little or no nutritional value during these snacks," Popkin said in the news release.

He advised parents to limit snack-time to just once per day and turn to healthy alternatives such as apple slices, carrots and other fruits and vegetables.

More information

For more on children and obesity, visit the American Academy of Children & Adolescent Psychiatry.



-- Randy Dotinga



SOURCE: Health Affairs, news release, March 2, 2010


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