A new study published inPediatrics surveyed more than 14,500 students from 2001 to 2002, another 9,200 during the 2005-2006 school year, and nearly 11,000 adolescents during 2009 and 2010. Conducted out of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, Maryland, the study asked participants what they ate, how much physical activity they engaged in, and how much time they spent in front of a screen — TV, computer, or otherwise.
The findings revealed that while the body mass index (BMI) of the participants increased from 2001 to 2006, between 2006 and 2010 there was a relative plateau, which suggests stabilized obesity rates.
"In some ways you can interpret what we found positively by saying we're beginning to bend the curve, and hopefully we'll start seeing a downward trend in obesity," study author Dr. Ronald J. Iannotti, who serves as chair of the exercise and health sciences department at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, told The New York Times.
The study also found interesting racial discrepancies in several areas. For example, Hispanic adolescents were less likely to exercise than white participants, black and Hispanic children watched more TV than white adolescents, and black adolescents consumed more sweets and soft drinks than their counterparts.
Male and female groups also differed in their habits: Researchers found boys watched more TV than girls and girls were more likely to eat closer to the recommended amount of five daily servings of fruits and vegetables per day than boys.