Vidyya Medical News Service
Volume 6 Issue 153 Published - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST 1-Jun-2004 Next Update - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST 2-Jun-2004
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Too fat, too thin: Weight-control behaviors among girls and boys

The future health of our country's children may rest in the foods they choose and their physical activity patterns. Often children are not eating the recommended servings from the Food Guide Pyramid. Their intake of milk is declining, while soft drink intake and overall food portion sizes appear to be increasing.

To examine links between healthful and unhealthful weigh-control behaviors, researchers from the University of Minnesota studied dietary intake patterns of 4,144 middle and high school students.

Healthful weight-control behaviors were defined as increasing fruits and vegetables and decreasing foods high in fats and sugars in moderation. Unhealthful weight-control behaviors were defined as skipping meals, fasting, using food substitutes and smoking.

Among other findings, the researchers discovered:

  • Girls using unhealthful weight-control behaviors had poorer overall dietary intakes than girls reporting no weight-control behaviors or only healthful behaviors
  • Girls using unhealthful weight-control behaviors had significantly lower intakes of fruit, vegetables and grains than girls using only healthful weight-control behaviors
  • Girls using only healthful weight-control behaviors had higher vitamin A intake than both of the other groups
  • Boys who used unhealthful weight-control behaviors did not have poorer dietary intakes than those using weight-control behaviors or using only healthful behaviors
  • Fruit intake was highest among boys reporting unhealthful weight-control behaviors and lowest among boys reporting no weight-control behaviors.

"The key to fostering lifelong healthy behavior--in children and through our lives--is education," said registered dietitian and ADA Spokesperson Jeannie Moloo. "Keeping kids healthy requires coordinated commitment and cooperation from parents, schools, restaurants, the food industry and all health professionals."

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