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U.S. Children Eating Less Calories, Making Healthier Choices

Update Date: Feb 21, 2013 11:07 AM EST

The United States has one of the highest records of childhood obesity with roughly 17 percent of the population falling under that category. However, a recent study provides optimistic findings regarding the fight against obesity. Children appear to be eating better portions and healthier options than before.

Based off of a report done by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 12 years ago, children are in taking fewer calories overall and more calories from healthier options, such as protein rich sources as opposed to fatty and greasy options. From 1999 to 2010, children from the ages of two to 19 picked more muscle-building foods as opposed to carbohydrates. According to the report, boys consumed an average of 2,258 calories and girls consumed around 1,831 calories a day in 1999-2000. These numbers have dropped significantly to 2,100 and 1,755 respectively.

The changes in children's diet are extremely important for the overall health of Americans. The government's report supports the health programs that many schools throughout the nation have adapted. With better cafeteria options and an increase in health education, children are making better decisions about what they put into their bodies. These decisions will hopefully transfer to making food decisions at home as well. The fight against obesity may just be truly starting.

"It would seem that education and public awareness about the importance of maintaining a healthy body weight may finally be getting to its intended audience," Coordinator of clinical nutrition at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, Rebecca Solomon commented. "Hopefully if we teach children the importance of appropriate calorie intake and nutrient balance, we will reverse the obesity problem over the next several decades."

The report also provided insight into specific ethnic and racial disparities. Although boys and girls appear to consume more beans, a protein rich source, this increase protein consumption did not seem to apply for African American girls. For African American girls and Mexican American girls, the consumption of carbohydrates also did not seem to decline, while other races and ethnic groups saw a decline from 55 percent to 54.3 percent in boys and 55.8 percent to 55.4 percent in girls.

Although the majority of children seem to be headed toward healthier options, this report provides the information on which groups might need more and better programs and campaigns to help fight obesity. Researchers and advocates for ending childhood obesity hope that the more accessible healthy foods become, the more willing children will reach for them at school and at home. 

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