THURSDAY, Feb. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Finally, some good news in the war on childhood obesity: Kids in the United States now consume fewer calories each day than they did 12 years ago, according to a new government report.
Even better, between 1999 and 2010, most boys and girls between 2 and 19 years old began getting more of their daily calories from muscle-building proteins and fewer from carbohydrates, which can easily spur weight gain when eaten to excess, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report found.
The findings, based on dietary data obtained from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, suggest a step in the right direction for a nation where 17 percent of all children and adolescents are obese. Excess weight in childhood is linked to a host of health problems later in life, including heart disease and diabetes.
"This certainly reflects an improvement in food and drink-related decisions," said Rebecca Solomon, coordinator of clinical nutrition at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.
"It would seem that education and public awareness about the importance of maintaining a healthy body weight may finally be getting to its intended audience," Solomon said. "Hopefully if we teach children the importance of appropriate calorie intake and nutrient balance, we will reverse the obesity problem over the next several decades."
When people eat more than they need to fuel their everyday activities, the body stores the extra calories as fat cells for use later. Over time, this can lead to weight gain and eventually obesity.
According to the new report, boys' daily calorie consumption on average fell from 2,258 calories in 1999-2000 to about 2,100 on average in 2009-2010. Girls' intake dropped from 1,831 calories to 1,755 during that time period.
The survey found some notable racial and ethnic differences in eating patterns, however.
For instance, t
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