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Junk Food, TV Driving Kids to Obesity
Date:9/25/2007

Studies find it's tougher than ever for youngsters to stay healthy,,,,

TUEDAY, Sept. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Lifestyles with too little movement, too much TV exposure and way too much junk food are pushing U.S. children toward a life of overweight and obesity, a collection of new studies finds.

The studies -- published in a special supplement of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine -- show the myriad challenges youngsters face every day in trying to maintain a healthy weight. Today's kids live in a world where it's often easier to get a fast food meal than fresh fruit, where walking to school is the exception rather than the norm, and where they're bombarded by ads telling them to eat more junk food and sugary beverages.

"It's a minefield out there for kids," said registered dietitian Alexandra Salazar, a pediatric nutritionist at the Children's Hospital of Montefiore in New York City. "Schools have a big part to play, but kids often aren't offered the best choices at school or in the community. It's up to parents to lead by example."

Almost one in six American children and teens are overweight, according to the U.S. Surgeon General's office, which also warns that 70 percent of overweight teens will grow into overweight or obese adults. Overweight children are now increasingly at risk for type 2 diabetes, a disease formerly associated only with adults. Kids carrying extra pounds may also have a higher risk of developing low self-esteem or depression.

"Were now seeing an epidemic of type 2 diabetes mellitus in children," said Dr. Brenda Kohn, a pediatric endocrinologist at the New York University Medical Center. She noted that other disorders, such as high cholesterol, are also on the rise in heavier youngsters.

Highlights of the studies included in the special supplement include:

  • Many schools offer easy access to junk food and beverages. Researchers at the U
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