Young Americans Need to Cut Calorie Intake:
TUESDAY, April 10 (HealthDay News) -- American youngsters have a
long way to go to reach new goals for a lower childhood obesity
rate, a new study shows.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has set a goal
of reducing the childhood obesity rate to 14.6 percent by 2020, and
to do so children aged 2 to 19 would need to eliminate an average
of 64 calories a day.
Without this reduction in calorie intake, the average child or
teen would be nearly 4 pounds heavier in 2020 than a child of the
same age in 2007. In addition, more than 20 percent of youth would
be obese, up from 16.9 percent currently.
The last time the childhood obesity rate in the United States
was 14.6 percent was in 2002.
"Sixty-four calories may not sound like much individually, but it's quite a consequential number at the population level, and children at greatest risk for obesity face an even larger barrier," study author Dr. Y. Claire Wang, an assistant professor of health policy and management at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health in New York City, said in a university news release.
"Closing this gap between how many calories young people are consuming and how many they are expending will take substantial, comprehensive efforts," Wang added.
The new goal could be achieved by reducing calorie intake,
increasing physical activity or both. But, although 64 calories is
the overall average reduction required to meet the 2020 goal,
certain groups of young people may need higher or lower calorie
White youngsters would need an average reduction of 46 calories,
compared with 91 calories for Mexican-Americans and 138 calories
for black children, who have higher rates of obesity. Children and
teens in low-income communities also have higher rates of obesity
and would require greater calorie reductions than those in
The researchers suggested many policy strategies that could help
American youngsters reduce calories:
- Replacing all sugar-sweetened beverages in school with water
and preventing children from drinking additional sugary beverages
outside of school could eliminate an average of 12 calories per
- Having children aged 9 to 11 take part in a comprehensive
physical-education program could eliminate an average of 19
calories per day.
- After-school activity programs for children in kindergarten to
fifth grade could eliminate an average of 25 calories per day.
The study was published this week in the
American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlines how
parents can help their children
maintain a healthy weight.
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