Most American teenagers are not as active as they should be but a lack of exercise does not seem to be to blame for the rising rates of teen obesity, according to a U.S. study.It came as a surprise to people who didn't know anything about fat advocacy, anyway.
Researchers, using government survey data from 1991 and 2007, found the amount of physical activity among U.S. teens has not in fact changed significantly over the past two decades while the population, including children, has got heavier.
Researcher Youfa Wang, of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, said it came as a surprise to find that a lack of exercise was not to blame for the rise in obesity with nearly one-third of U.S. children and teens now overweight or obese.
He said there was no evidence that teens' exercise levels had changed appreciably at any time during the study period — even though those years saw an increase in teen obesity.Those years also saw an increase in the number of teens taking a daily physical education class and a decrease in TV-watching. So what is causing the increase in teen obesity? I don't know: Maybe it's bad nutrition; maybe it's increased prescriptions for pharmaceuticals with a side effect of weight gain; maybe it's widespread compulsive eating to soothe widespread anxiety provoked by a fucked-up culture; maybe it's something in our increasingly less-regulated water; maybe iPhones are in cahoots with the diet industry and secretly zap your thyroid gland (there's an app for that!); maybe it's corn subsidies and the fact that I can hardly find a pre-made store-bought product to bring into a house with a diabetic that isn't laced with HFCS—I have no fucking clue.
But what I do know is that more people aren't getting fatter just because they're lazier assholes than the assholes who came before them. And that piece of information is kind of a big deal, since variations on the "couch potato" meme not only underwrite so much of contemporary fat-hatred, but have also long served as the indisputable conventional wisdom to render unnecessary research into alternative causes of obesity.
[Wang] said other factors, like unhealthy diets, may be the driving force.Welcome to the Health At Every Size bandwagon, friends.
However, the researchers added that this does not mean it is fine for teenagers to be sedentary. Children and teens still need to develop regular exercise habits for the sake of their overall health, according to the researchers.
"Our study suggests that more vigorous efforts are needed to help young Americans engage in adequate regular physical activity and reduce sedentary behaviors, which will help promote good health," they said.
[H/T to Dori.]