U.S. adolescents may finally be getting the message about healthier living. Researchers are reporting children in grades six through 10 are eating more vegetables, exercising more and watching less television than their counterparts a decade earlier.
The positive trends may be eating into the country's obesity epidemic.
A representative sample of more than 30,000 adolescents aged 11 to 16 were analyzed from 2001 to 2010, so researchers could take a close look at their behaviors over the backdrop of the latest obesity trends.
Nationwide, childhood obesity rates have tripled since the 1980s. Now, 17 percent of all kids and adolescents are considered obese.
Recent studies suggest the childhood obesity rate may be leveling off or even falling slightly. However, other researchers have reported troubling upticks in rates of "severe obesity" among U.S. children.
For the new study, published Sept. 16 in Pediatrics, researchers at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, Md. surveyed more than 14,500 students in 2001 to 2002, another 9,200 during the 2005-2006 school year, and nearly 11,000 adolescents during 2009 and 2010.