Science and Tech


Teens not consuming enough veggies or exercising enough, study says

The study of teens in 2021 showed that fewer than 50% had eaten a fruit or vegetable at least one time a day.
School cafeteria
Posted at 12:28 PM, Apr 28, 2023

High school students are not getting enough fruits, vegetables or exercise, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study look at dietary and physical activity behaviors among students in grades 9 through 12 during the first semester of the 2021 school year. It was the first semester that widespread in-person learning resumed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study shows that more than 50% of students had not eaten at least one fruit or vegetable a day, an increase of from 2019. 

Health officials said the survey showed another concerning statistic: 75% of high schoolers said they do not eat breakfast on a daily basis. That number also increased from 2019, when 66.9% said they didn't eat breakfast.

Breakfast is commonly referred to as "the most important meal of the day." The CDC says eating breakfast is associated with improved cognitive function, reduced absenteeism, and improved mood.

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The amount of physical activity teens are getting improved slightly over the course of the pandemic, but it still remains low. The study says 23.9% of students said they had been physically active for 60 minutes or more every day for the past week. In 2019, that number was 23.2%.

U.S. health officials recommend that children up to 17 years old get at least 60 minutes of exercise every day. 

The study's authors note that schools are in a unique position to help address dietary and physical activity challenges among youth. They say schools should ensure they are providing access to healthy meals and allowing teens to participate in physical activities throughout the day.

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