A study of sixth-graders in Michigan found that obese students consumed more soda and school lunches, were more likely to watch more than two hours of television a day, and were less likely to engage in physical activities.
The study by the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center was published in the American Heart Journal.
The study found that whether obesity is genetic or not, the problem can be fought with programs that increase physical activity, reduced recreational screen time, and school lunches that have greater nutritional value.
"For the extremely overweight child, genetic screening may be a consideration," says Kim A. Eagle, director of the university’s Cardiovascular Center and senior author of the study. "For the rest, increasing physical activity, reducing recreational screen time and improving the nutritional value of school lunches offers great promise to begin a reversal of current childhood obesity trends."
Children involved in the study participate in Project Healthy Schools, a school-based program that teaches middle school students about healthful lifestyles, with a goal of reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Project Healthy Schools is available at 13 middle schools in Michigan.