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Are teens getting the lifestyle message?

September 4, 2012 in News

According to recent research, more than half of them are not.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) just released information collected from 6,911 girls and 6,970 boys between the ages of 11 and 17, showing that less of half of these teens were advised by their doctor to eat healthily and get plenty of exercise.

All of the teens in the study had seen a healthcare provider at least once in the past year. During their visits, only 47 percent of girls and 44 percent of boys were advised by their provider to eat a healthy diet. Only 36 percent of boys and girls were advised to get more exercise.

The rate of obesity in this same age group has been on the rise – the most recent estimates show that about 34 percent of American teens are obese. 23 percent of teens have either diabetes or prediabetes, and more and more of teens are developing risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Since all of these health concerns can be treated with a combination of a healthy diet and exercise under a doctor’s supervision, it is concerning that so few teens are getting the message.

The study findings do suggest that those teens at the highest risk are more likely to be advised to exercise more and eat a healthy diet. Girls in the obese category were 2.1 times more likely to be advised to eat healthy than their peers, and 2.37 times as likely to be advised to get more exercise. Boys in the obese category were 1.7 times as likely to receive the same advice than other boys, and were 1.9 times as likely to be advised to exercise. However, teens who were overweight were significantly less likely to be counseled about diet and exercise than teens who were obese.

Teens who lived in the northeast, came from higher-income households, who had parents with some college education, or who had a regular source of medical care were more likely to receive lifestyle advice.

These findings are troubling, especially given the increasing rate of weight-related health concerns among young Americans. The authors of the study called for an increased effort to include guidelines for screening teens for obesity, and for lifestyle counseling, into pediatric clinical practice.

The original news post can be accessed through DoctosLounge.com, and contains links to the article abstract.

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